Rosecroft Raceway

Table games could save Rosecroft

Officials at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County say the closed harness racing track may still have a chance to be reincarnated as a table games destination.

When the track closed July 1, owner Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc. said it would convert from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and auction off the track. Potential buyer Mark Vogel also said the track was losing too much money for him to keep investing and that he could no longer afford the monthly mortgage payments.

But now the Greenbelt-based developer says he is still making the track’s mortgage payments and is in talks with a few interested gaming partners and “in advanced discussions” with one.

Judge: Rosecroft antitrust suit can proceed

An antitrust suit against the Maryland thoroughbred industry filed by the bankrupt owner of a Prince George’s County harness racing track is still alive.

A federal judge has ruled that Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., which shuttered Rosecroft Raceway last month, has put forth enough evidence to allow the case to go forward. But U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett noted several times in his opinion that his ruling was based on whether Cloverleaf had enough of a claim to proceed.

He noted it is rare to dismiss antitrust cases before the discovery stage.

“An antitrust complaint should not be dismissed … ‘merely because the court doubts the plaintiff will ultimately prevail,’” Bennett wrote, citing a 1976  Supreme Court case against a private hospital in Raleigh, N.C.

Bennett’s opinion, issued last week, was in response to a motion to dismiss filed by defendants Maryland Jockey Club, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and others.

Rosecroft’s supporters point fingers at Annapolis

In the wake of Rosecroft Raceway’s announcement that it will be closing July 1, supporters of the Fort Washington harness racing track are pointing fingers at Annapolis.

“They talk about ‘jobs, jobs, jobs,’ and when the Preakness and Pimlico were in trouble, the governor and others ran downstairs to save them,” Sen. C. Anthony Muse, D-Prince George’s, said Wednesday, referring to swift legislative action last year that protected the property and the state’s first right of refusal to the race.

“Here we have 200 jobs on the line and they have done absolutely nothing,” he said.

Kelley Rogers, president of Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., which owns the race track that declared bankruptcy a year ago, said it was no longer financially viable to keep Rosecroft open.

“It just makes me sick. It really does,” he said. “The Legislature sat on their butt and didn’t do anything to save these jobs.”

Rosecroft Raceway’s license extended through July 1

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

The Maryland Racing Commission Monday voted 5-1 to approve Rosecroft Raceway’s racing license through July 1 after prospective buyer Mark Vogel offered to front money to keep the Fort Washington track operational,

“We live to fight another day,” said Sharon Roberts, executive director of Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, the track owner’s parent company.

In a lengthy hearing Tuesday afternoon at Pimlico Race Course, officials from Rosecroft’s owner, Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., testified on the harness track’s financial viability.

Cloverleaf President Kelly Rogers said with Vogel’s $350,000 loan and a $150,000 loan from the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, the track could remain operational through July 1. Both loans are subject to approval by a bankruptcy court judge.

Rosecroft Raceway sale blocked

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

A bankruptcy judge has denied the proposed sale of Rosecroft Raceway to developer Mark Vogel, calling it a “sell out” that’s unfair to the track’s creditors and the harness racing industry. The track’s owners must instead sell Rosecroft through a traditional Chapter 11 reorganization plan.

Meanwhile, Rosecroft owner Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc. notified its employees and shareholders Monday that if the track does not succeed with its legislative initiatives this session, which ends April 12, Rosecroft will close on April 19.

Cloverleaf’s notice portrayed the sale to Vogel as an option for the track’s immediate survival that had been eliminated. While Vogel remains an interested buyer, the notice said legislation, which includes legalizing poker at the track, is the remaining course for keeping the track open.

A 1st step toward poker at Rosecroft

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

Maryland’s Senate president has proposed legislation that would legalize poker rooms at Prince George’s County’s struggling harness racing track.

The bill, SB 1035, joins a handful of alternative gaming legislation that has been submitting this year by Maryland lawmakers.

“Unfortunately the state of Maryland is way behind the curve in terms of utilizing the gambling phenomenon to generate revenues compared with other states,” said Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George’s. “Because of — in my opinion — misguided opinions, it has failed to achieve its full potential.”

Rosecroft study: Poker rooms good for state

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

A new study shows if poker rooms were legalized at Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County, the gaming revenue could total up to $42 million per year for the county and state and produce up to 1,500 union jobs.

The study was commissioned by Mark Vogel, the owner-in-waiting for the harness racing track that is in bankruptcy, and was conducted by Florida-based Innovation Group. Vogel’s purchase of the track is awaiting approval from a bankruptcy judge.

The Greenbelt developer said he’s passing the preliminary results of the study around Annapolis in an effort to drum up interest in legislation related to Rosecroft he is pushing to be introduced in this year’s legislative session.

Vogel wants to bring poker to struggling Rosecroft Raceway

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer 

Rosecroft Raceway’s owner-in-waiting wants to bring table games to the Prince George’s County harness racing track next year but — as with slots legalization – he could be in for a long struggle.

Greenbelt-based developer Mark Vogel, who is expected to become the new owner of the raceway next month pending a bankruptcy judge’s approval of the approximately $10 million sale, said Tuesday the track is ideal for poker rooms.

He said he plans on running a “full court press” in next year’s legislative session to push legalization.

“I think the momentum has turned in the state, especially in Prince George’s County, because they need the revenues,” Vogel said after a Maryland Racing Commission meeting in Laurel.

Racing panel’s new look makes some unhappy

Daily Record Business Writer
September 22, 2009 7:21 PM

The faces of the Maryland Racing Commission changed this month when two new appointees officially took their seats — and not everyone is happy with the makeup.

Those in the standardbred industry, which runs the state’s harness racing tracks, say their voice has diminished on the nine-person board while the thoroughbred industry has too much influence.

“If you look at it, it’s not balanced,” said Ralph Hayward, president of the Maryland Standardbred Breeders Association. “I don’t think the commission should be ruling at all on standardbred [issues]…if we’re not adequately represented.”

The two new appointees to represent the standardbred industry are Ernest R. Grecco, president of the Baltimore chapter of the AFL-CIO, and Thomas W. Winebrener, a member of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners’ Association and owner of Fox Den Farm in Union Bridge. Grecco has represented laborers in the horse industry from thoroughbred breeders to standardbred breeders to track employees.

Vogel reaches agreement to buy Rosecroft

Daily Record Business Writer
July 9, 2009 12:48 PM

Mark Vogel and Rosecroft Raceway have agreed that the Greenbelt-based developer will buy the harness racing track for more than $10 million.

The board of directors for Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., which owns the Prince George’s County track, approved the sale Wednesday night in a unanimous vote, according to Cloverleaf President Kelley Rogers.

“We are thrilled,” said Rogers. “It’s going to allow for a long-term future here at Rosecroft. I think Mark’s going to be a good owner with great ideas.”

Vogel said Thursday he was not ready to reveal more specifics, including the exact price for the track, because he was still ironing out an agreement with a lender. But he said a portion of the deal included money for subsidizing live racing.

Although Vogel, who has been in talks with Cloverleaf for months, said he was excited to move forward, he also said he is anxious to reach an agreement with Maryland’s thoroughbred industry on Rosecroft’s right to simulcast and take bets on thoroughbred races.

“The truth is none of that really matters until we have a simulcast agreement,” Vogel said. “And without simulcast, Rosecroft goes nowhere.”

Cloverleaf files $20M suit against MD Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Assn.

Daily Record Business Writer
July 6, 2009 8:04 PM

The bankrupt owner of Rosecroft Raceway filed a $20 million suit Monday against the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Maryland Jockey Club and 15 other defendants, and is promising more suits to come against others in the industry.

“Somebody finally had to stand up to these people,” said Kelley Rogers, president of Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc. He added there will be “many more still to come in the days ahead,” including an antitrust action and a possible suit against the Maryland Racing Commission.

Monday’s complaint claims that defendant TrackNet Media Group LLC, co-owned by Churchill Downs Inc. and jockey club parent Magna Entertainment Corp., is interfering with Rosecroft’s simulcast agreement with tracks owned and operated by Churchill and Magna.

Rosecroft, a harness racing track in Prince George’s County, stopped live racing last year, and simulcast betting is its only form of gambling revenue.

Former owner says he has tentative Rosecroft deal

Daily Record Business Writer
June 24, 2009 2:55 PM

The former owner of Rosecroft Raceway says he has reached a deal to buy back the bankrupt harness racing track in Prince George’s County — but the Greenbelt developer is still far from clearing another hurdle in bringing live racing back to the track.

Mark R. Vogel, who owned the track in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said Rosecroft parent Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc. has agreed to a deal to sell the track. Vogel declined to reveal the terms and referred all questions to Cloverleaf President Kelley Rogers, who did not return calls Wednesday.

The sale would need to be approved by the Cloverleaf board of directors, which Vogel expects, and the judge overseeing Cloverleaf’s bankruptcy case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland in Greenbelt. Vogel’s race track license would also have to be approved by the Maryland Racing Commission.

Vogel to push for ‘alternative gaming’ at Rosecroft Raceway

Daily Record Business Writer
June 22, 2009 7:03 PM

Greenbelt developer Mark R. Vogel would reinstate live racing at Rosecroft Raceway and plans to push for alternative gaming there if he succeeds in buying the bankrupt harness racing track.

“We’re working to get a deal structured where I’m putting up enough money so we can start live racing next year,” Vogel said Monday.

He added he is also hoping for revenue from slots to start coming in next year to boost the track’s purses.

“So the goal is to show Rosecroft can be a prominent live racing venue again,” he said.

Vogel, who owned Rosecroft in the late 1980s and early 1990s, would not elaborate on what alternative gaming he was considering except to say he was meeting with community members on the topic and looking beyond slot machines.

Vogel in talks for Rosecroft Raceway

Daily Record Business Writer
June 19, 2009 8:41 PM

A Greenbelt-area developer with a mottled past as the former owner of the now-bankrupt Rosecroft Raceway is in talks to again purchase the Prince George’s County harness racing track.

But the move could hinge on whether the thoroughbred industry will reauthorize the track’s right to broadcast and take bets on their races.

Mark R. Vogel, president of Mark Vogel Cos. LLC, has been meeting with representatives of the raceway and the thoroughbred industry for about two months to discuss a sale, said Gerald E. Evans, an attorney who is advising Vogel in the negotiations.

“We are trying to settle the long-simmering dispute between Rosecroft and the thoroughbred industry about the simulcast agreement,” Evans said. “If Mark can pull it off I think he’ll start live racing again ... and I think he’d be a terrific owner.”

Rosecroft Raceway may reopen this weekend

Daily Record Business Writer
May 1, 2009 12:53 PM

Rosecroft Raceway, which earlier this week had its simulcast wagering signal yanked, may be back open to take bets on the Kentucky Derby Saturday.

A Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order that would allow the track to regain its televised signal for thoroughbred racing and simulcast wagering, but it is contingent upon payment of a $2 million bond — money that raceway owner Kelley Rogers says he does not have.

Rogers and his attorney are asking the judge to change the order to require a cash bond in the “hundreds of thousands,” Rogers said. With about $700,000 in cash on hand, the bond payment would nearly deplete the raceway’s immediate funds but keep it open for one of its biggest moneymaking days of the year.

Rogers said this year’s projected profit from bets placed during the Kentucky Derby day is about $140,000, if Rosecroft reopens.

Rosecroft Raceway’s simulcast signal is pulled

Daily Record Business Writer
April 28, 2009 7:19 PM

Four days before the Kentucky Derby, the Maryland Racing Commission has voted to cut off Rosecroft Raceway’s simulcast signal of thoroughbred races in response to the track owner’s refusal to pay a $5.9 million fee for the signal rights.

The 6-2 vote came during a contentious commission meeting held at Pimlico Race Course Tuesday. One member was absent from the meeting.

Kelley Rogers, president of Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., the horsemen-owned parent company of Rosecroft, said after the meeting he intends to file a motion in Price George’s County Circuit Court Wednesday requesting a stay order on the commission’s action.

If granted, the order would allow Rosecroft, which has suspended live racing and functions solely as a simulcast betting site, to take bets on the Kentucky Derby this Saturday.