Live horse racing may soon be back on it's way to Prince George's County's Rosecroft Raceway after a more than three year drought. The track's new owner, Penn National Gaming, was conditionally awarded a racing license this week by the Maryland Racing Commission.
Under the conditions set forth by the commission, Penn National, which bought the track out of bankruptcy earlier this year, must guarantee the track’s operations through 2012. Rosecroft must host 20 live racing meets through the end of this year and 54 in 2012. Under those conditions, racing can return to Prince George’s County as soon as August 1.
Rosecroft, a harness racing track, and representatives of Maryland’s thoroughbred racing industry entered into mediation last week on a new simulcasting agreement between the two industries. Rosecroft had its right to broadcast and take bets on thoroughbred races like the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, yanked in May 2009 -- one year after Rosecroft had essentially been operating as an off track betting facility. The thoroughbred industry said in 2009 Rosecroft owed it more than $6 million in back payments for those broadcast rights.
Former Rosecroft executives have said the loss played a major factor in its declaring bankruptcy in June 2009.
In a statement, Maryland Labor Secretary Alexander M. Sanchez called the conditional approval a milestone.
"Still, we must develop a sustainable plan for the racing industry across Maryland and our work to find agreement with breeders, owners and track operators will continue in earnest in the weeks and months ahead," he said.