MJC Attorney: No Deal Made for Sale of Racetracks

A Maryland Jockey Club attorney told Maryland legislators June 25 that no deal has been made to sell Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course to Magna Entertainment, and that any deal would have to clear major regulatory hurdles.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Alan Rifkin, the MJC attorney, told the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee that the MJC has received "overtures" from potential buyers, but no agreement has been struck. Magna Entertainment and the MJC reportedly have been negotiating for months.

Neither side will confirm the talks, but the Sun cited sources who claim the deal would put the value of the racetracks and related holdings at more than $100 million, and that Magna would buy a majority of the stock. MJC president Joe De Francis and his sister, vice president Karin De Francis, would retain a significant minority share as well as executive positions.

The Maryland Racing Commission would have to agree to transfer the racing license to the new operator, Rifkin said. A few commissioners have already publicly voiced their concerns over any sale to Magna.

The Preakness Stakes, second leg of the Triple Crown, would almost certainly remain at Pimlico. By law, it can only be moved to another Maryland track in the event of an emergency, and the state has the right to match any offer from an entity that wants to move it out of state, the Sun reported.