By Ray Paulick
The California Horse Racing Board has called for a special meeting on Friday to discuss what it calls the “imminent” bankruptcy filing of Magna Entertainment and the effect that action may have on two current race meetings at Magna-owned tracks, Santa Anita Park east of Los Angeles and Golden Gate Fields near San Francisco, as well as on the company's ExpressBet advance deposit wagering platform.
The meeting will be held in the Baldwin Terrace Room at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific).
During a public session, the board will discuss financial conditions of the two tracks and take action on licenses for the current race meetings and on the ADW license of ExpressBet. It will also seek assurances from Magna that the wagering public and horse racing industry participants are financially protected in the event of a bankruptcy filing under federal law. Of concern is money belonging to horseplayers that is held by XpressBet and owner, trainer and jockey funds held by the horsemen's bookkeeper at the two tracks.
Horseplayers are particularly concerned because of a recent bankruptcy filing of the Hinsdale Greyhound Track in New Hampshire, in which account wagering funds belonging to bettors were frozen. Officials with the Thoroughbred Owners of California reportedly have had ongoing discussions with Magna officials about having access to owners' money in the horsemen's bookkeeper's account if and when the company files for bankruptcy.
The CHRB also will discuss contingency plans and take appropriate action in the event Magna is unable to secure “debtor in possession financing,” which presumably would allow the two tracks to continue operations. Among the possibilities are substitute race meet licensees in the event Santa Anita, Golden Gate and XpressBet are forced to close their doors.
Magna has defaulted on one loan and has other debt obligations due in coming days that it is not expected to meet.
Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report
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