Mark Simon: Thoroughbred Times owner Norman Ridker testimony ‘wrong, incomplete or misleading’
Mark Simon, former editor of the now-bankrupt Thoroughbred Times magazine, accused the publication’s owner Norman Ridker of giving “wrong, incomplete or or misleading” statements about the company while under oath during an Oct. 16 bankruptcy hearing in Lexington, Ky.
In an email to the National Thoroughbred Writers and Broadcasters, many of whose members had not been paid by Thoroughbred Times for their services over a lengthy period of time, Simon accused Ridker of providing “wrong” information on how “some of the massive debt of (Ridker’s) related companies got on the books” of Thoroughbred Times.
Since the bankruptcy was announced, Simon has been hired by Daily Racing Form to head up a division of the company called “DRF Breeding.”
Simon also indicated that “Ridker and his related companies are in line to get 90% of any money collected after priority claims because he is claiming $4.7-million of the $5.2-million in debt.” If approved, that means free-lance writers and others listed among the many Times creditors will be hard-pressed to collect on money owed them for services provided to Simon and Ridker.
After a recent discussion with the bankruptcy trustee, Simon said he believes an auction of the company’s assets could take place as early as mid-December.
Following is the complete text of Simon’s email concerning the Thoroughbred Times bankruptcy.
I want to provide an update on the bankruptcy proceedings of Thoroughbred Times.
The creditors’ meeting was held October 16 in Lexington and the owner of the Thoroughbred Times, Norman Ridker, appeared at the hearing to answer questions. Many of his answers were either wrong, incomplete, or misleading, in my opinion. He could not tell the trustee, for example–under oath–if he is the sole owner (he is) of Thoroughbred Times. He said he would have to check. His explanation of how some of the massive debt of his related companies got on the books was wrong. The trustee handling the bankruptcy said he may subpoena the owner and/or CFO of his parent company, BowTie Inc., to come back to Lexington to answer questions at some point.
But the bottom line in terms of the bankruptcy at this time is that Ridker and his related companies are in line to get 90% of any money collected after priority claims because he is claiming $4.7-million of the $5.2-million in debt. I have spoken with the trustee on numerous occasions and have questioned many of those claims, in an attempt to try to convince him to get those off the books or disregarded, but the trustee says if those claims are legitimate, the court has to honor them. He said he will look into those claims and Ridker will have to supply Proof of Claims to the court to support any debt he says is owed. There is a claim for $411,000, for example, from a Ridker-related company that the Times never had in its payables (nor could anyone in the Lexington business office figure out what they did for us or how it got put down as an expense). The $2.5-million claim by BowTie on the books is also suspect, in my opinion, and what exactly it is will determine its credibility.
My impression is this process will take a long time to resolve, and I would not be surprised if it took into the spring or summer. The trustee has not even started collections on the receivables (about $900,000 for advertising that is owed) and I have no idea when he will start. He does not seem to be in much of hurry. The trustee says the process is slow on purpose to protect creditors.
I met with the trustee this morning, October 23, to help him get an idea of the assets that are available to be sold (library, physical photo files, digital photo files, intellectual property, trademarks, databases, contact lists, work product, artwork, desks, computers, partitions, etc.) and at this time it appears he wants to have the auction in mid-December, though the auctioneers who were with him today said they would prefer January. But the trustee has to pay rent on the space as long as the physical property is there and the trustee would like to end that expense as soon as possible. The trustee must give 21 days written notice to creditors of an asset sale. My understanding is that the asset sale will be an online auction. The trustee will likely separate out each asset group (intellectual property, furniture, library, photo file prints, photo file digital, artwork) and sell separately. There will be five to seven groups of assets auctioned. His goal is to raise as much money as possible, not sell an ongoing concern.
I asked him today what the next step is, and he said it will be to try to identify and catalog assets so potential bidders know what they will be bidding on.
In the meantime, all Proofs of Claim must be filed with the bankruptcy court by December 26, 2012. The form can be accessed at: