Magna Entertainment chairman and founder Frank Stronach.

Magna Entertainment chairman and founder Frank Stronach.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Stronach Says The Racing Network to Relaunch Early Next Year

Magna Entertainment Corp. will revive The Racing Network early next year, according to company chairman and founder Frank Stronach.

The live racing networkês reintroduction will likely coincide with the launch of MEC's account wagering service in California. MEC had hoped to put its races on television through the TV Games Network, but a suitable deal couldn't be reached. MEC offered the content of its racetracks, which includes Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park, and Golden Gate Fields, in exchange for the races offered now through TVG, according to MEC president Jim McAlpine. TVG, however, has exclusive video and wagering contracts with key racetracks, such as the ones owned by Churchill Downs and the New York Racing Association.

TVG's president, Mark Wilson, said the deal MEC proposed would violate the value and integrity of its exclusive agreements.

Stronach was undaunted.

"The Racing Network, I think, provided a good service," he said Friday. "We will revive that in January or February just as it was before."

Based at Philadelphia Park, The Racing Network had provided four channels of live racing that were available through the DISH digital satellite network and up to seven channels on the TRN Direct home satellite service. TRN integrated up to four simulcast signals on each channel and broadcast about 2,500 races weekly.

The network operated for two years before suspending its services July 30. A company statement said it could not achieve the subscriber growth it needed.

Greenwood Racing launched The Racing Network. MEC bought a part of the company when it acquired four OTBs and the Call-A-Bet telephone wagering service from Ladbrokes.

While McAlpine said earlier this month that television is not necessary for an account wagering service to be initially successful, he said the effort was being made to get MEC races broadcasted.

"If people want pictures, we'll get pictures," he said.