Just days before the Kentucky Derby, Rosecroft Raceway, which hasn’t had live harness racing in nearly a year, was ordered to cease operations by the Maryland Racing Commission on April 28, thereby losing substantial income from simulcasting Thoroughbred racing.
The track suspended live racing in 2008 saying that harness racing could return next year depending on what happens with slot machines in Maryland. Located near Washington D.C., Rosecroft had been open every day and night for continuous Thoroughbred and harness racing simulcasting.
On April 26, a new revenue-sharing agreement between Rosecroft and Thoroughbred interests called for the harness track to pay the Thoroughbred industry about $5.9 million a year for the right to simulcast Thoroughbred racing. Because of its location, Rosecroft is a major in-state outlet for simulcasts and the live Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) product at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.
In a release, the MJC said Rosecroft owes about $2 million so far this year to the MJC, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and Maryland Horse Breeders Association. The MJC indicated Rosecroft officials would not or could not pay the money, so the racing commission pulled its Thoroughbred simulcast rights. Harness simulcasts are allowed to continue.
Even if slots are put in place in Maryland, Rosecroft will not have them, but will benefit from a share of a projected $20 million a year the harness industry could get from statewide slots operations. The state’s only other harness track, Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore, has submitted a bid for slots.
Slots revenue, when and if it ever comes, would be split 80-20 between Thoroughbred and Standardbred interests in line with a formula to split pari-mutuel revenue. (with files from The Bloodhorse)