- Churchill Downs announced an agreement to sell Hollywood Park to Bay Meadows Land Co. for $260 million - it paid $140 million for the track in 1999. Bay Meadows will continue to operate the track for at least three years, and company president Terrence Fancher put the future beyond that squarely on the shoulders of California politicians.
"We love the racing business," he said in a conference call. "We stepped up to purchase Hollywood Park in the hope we can prolong the life of this great asset."Another track’s survival depending directly on the legalization of slots. One really interesting aspect of the deal is this: [Churchill Downs] will have an option to reinvest in Hollywood Park should significant alternative gaming or gaming subsidies occur. [Business Wire Press Release]
At the same time, Fancher said BMLC "will seek alternative uses for the current racetrack site, in collaboration with the city of Inglewood, in the event that our best efforts are unable to improve the underlying economics of the horse racing industry and to stem the tide of horses leaving the state."
"It would be tragic to see racing fall off the landscape in California," he said. "Governor, you can do something about it." [LA Times (AP)]
Wow, how cool is that? They get to walk away with a bundle of cash if and when the deal closes as expected this fall, let Bay Meadows do all the laborous arm-twisting and expensive lobbying to get slots passed, and if they do, Churchill gets to jump back on board. That’s kinda like selling a yearling, have the buyer do all the breaking and training, and then have a clause to reinvest if the horse wins a graded stakes or two. Nice deal. If slots don’t come, Bay Meadows will have had experience in developing the land instead; the company is finalizing plans to raze its 83.5-acre eponymous San Mateo horse track to build a residential and commercial development.
“Like our track in San Mateo, the land here is attractive land and we are ready to go down another path with it if the racing environment doesn’t improve..” [Los Angeles Business Journal Online]- In racing news at Hollywood, the G2 Swaps BC is on the Gold Cup undercard, and Don’t Get Mad appears after his dramatic rally in the Northern Dancer BC at Churchill, his first win around 2 turns. Indian Ocean and Surf Cat, who ran 1-2 in the Affirmed last month are amongst seven challengers.
- The eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace, one of the highlights of the 3 yo pacing season, are this Saturday night, and since the Head Chef is, unfortunately, catering a dinner party that night, I may be forced to go there to pass the time and keep out of real trouble. You gotta love the name Rocknroll Hanover, and he’s the favorite to win it all. His breeding rights were sold this past week, and it was announced that he’ll go to stud in New Jersey after this year, so it’s not just the thoroughbred industry that suffers from the problem of early retirement. He was a $190,000 yearling purchase and has earned almost $1.5 million thus far in his career with the richest races of the harness season to come, though I suppose that money is all gravy at this point. Go here (Standardbred Canada) for a rundown of the top contenders for the Meadowlands Pace; there will be two elimination races, and the top five finishers in each will race for the $1 million purse on July 16.