Report: Commissioners Oppose Magna Purchase of Maryland Tracks

The possible purchase of Laurel Park and Pimlico Racecourse by Magna Entertainment has drawn opposition from some members of the Maryland Racing Commission, according to a report in Friday's edition of the Washington Post.

The article noted that commissioner Terry Saxon is one of at least four commissioners who would not approve the sale of Maryland Jockey Club to Magna. Saxon cited Magna's experience as owner of Gulfstream Park as one reason to oppose the company's purchase of Maryland's premier tracks.

"We would not approve it, I can tell you that," Saxon told the Post. "I personally would look long and hard after the experience at Gulfstream. Why would Maryland approve an operator that runs a premium racetrack into the ground."

As previously reported, handle and field sizes have declined during the current Gulfstream meet, with some horsemen citing the inability for the track to reach an agreement for stabling at Hialeah as a reason for the downturn.

Maryland racing commission chairman Lou Ulman told the Post the panel would look closely at any purchase of MJC by Magna. "I would need to know what their objectives are, and I think Maryland should have year-round racing," Ulman said. "I think some of the companies might have other objectives."

Magna president James McAlpine declined to comment on the possible opposition to his company's purchase of Laurel and Pimlico.

Magna owns 11 North American racetracks. The Maryland Jockey Club had combined net income of $1.49 million in 2001, although Laurel reportedly had $2.4 million in losses, according to the Post.