After more than three years of back-and-forth conflict, Rosecroft Raceway and the state’s thoroughbred industry have come to an agreement on simulcast licenses.
The two-year agreement allows the Fort Washington harness track to simulcast out-of-state thoroughbred races and those of the Maryland Jockey Club tracks in Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. In return, the thoroughbred tracks can simulcast from Rosecroft and other harness tracks. Simulcasting begins Jan. 1.
“Better late than never,” said Thomas Cooke, president of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners’ Association after the agreement was announced at the Maryland Racing Commission on Tuesday.
Commissioners approved the deal, subject to the commission chairman reviewing the terms over the next few days.
The agreement ends the dispute that resulted in Rosecroft’s loss of the simulcast license in 2009. The dispute surrounded the refusal of Cloverleaf Enterprises, then-owner of Rosecroft, to pay $1.24 million owed to Maryland breeders and horsemen for the signal rights.
The agreement also has provisions for renegotiation after its two-year term is complete. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Combined with the thoroughbred 10-year shared revenue agreement, the simulcast deal “clears the decks,” Cooke said.
“All of these conflicting issues are resolved, and it puts everyone in the position to move forward on other important issues,” he said.
He referred to the agreement’s timing as the “24th hour.”
Penn National Gaming, current owner of Rosecroft, and the other groups were scheduled for arbitration Dec. 10, after months of being unable to come to a consensus, said Chris McErlean, vice president of racing for Penn.
About 10 minutes before arbitration was to start, negotiations restarted, he said, adding that a memorandum of understanding was completed that same day.
The agreement was signed a few minutes before the commission meeting Tuesday, McErlean said.
Penn National purchased Rosecroft in a bankruptcy auction in February 2011 and has put several million dollars into track improvements. The Wyomissing, Pa., company has also pushed for gambling at the track.
Rosecroft has been approved for 54 days of live racing, starting March 9.