Fair Grounds Draws Further Interest from Investors

Two more groups of investors, one of which includes Kentucky Derby-winning owner Mike Pegram, have expressed interest in acquiring a stake in Fair Grounds.

Pegram, who owned 1998 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Real Quiet, and Florida attorney John Bianco lead the two groups interested in Fair Grounds, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Bianco is reportedly negotiating with the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association to buy the horsemen's $90-million judgement against Fair Grounds made last week by a district judge for a shortfall in video poker revenue. Bianco said buying the judgement would be the initial step in purchasing Fair Grounds from the Krantz family.

"It's certainly a beautiful facility," Bianco said. "There's just a couple of issues that have to be looked at and resolved. It's hard to put a timetable on when it will happen or if it will happen."

Other members of the investment group include Stephen Hilbert, who raced stakes winners Stephen Got Even and Tomisue's Delight. Hilbert is the founder and former CEO of Conseco Inc., an insurance and investment company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002. Hilbert resigned as CEO in 2000.

Bianco did not say what the group might offer for the judgement. Though he has negotiated primarily with the Louisiana HBPA, Bianco has also spoke once with Fair Grounds owner Bryan Krantz.

"There are a couple ways to attack the issue but certainly doing something with the horsemen seems to be the most beneficial way of attacking it," Bianco told the newspaper.

Pegram owns several McDonald's franchises. Further details of his plans were not revealed.

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