The bankrupt company that owns Remington Park wants to sell it at auction, a process the general manager of the racetrack and casino said Friday would not immediately affect the facility’s operations. In a filing in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware on Tuesday, Magna Entertainment Corp. asked a judge to approve the procedures for the auction, which would include other tracks and assets owned by the Aurora, Ontario-based company. Magna Entertainment, the largest horse-track owner in the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 5, saying it has between $500 million and $1 billion in liabilities and more than $1 billion in assets. In the court filing, the company has proposed a July 8 deadline for bids, with the auction set for July 30 if qualified bids are received. A hearing about the company’s auction proposal is set for April 3. "Our operations continue as normal,” said Scott Wells, Remington Park’s general manager. "We expect that to continue to be the case if we are purchased by another company or whatever the case may be.” Bucking the industry trend, Remington Park has been profitable in recent years, he said. "Our business levels picked up during 2008, even when the economy went in the tank and most gambling venues have seen downturns,” Wells said. "It’s even increased into 2009.” Wells said officials from Miller Buckfire & Co., listed in court documents as the "financial advisor” to Magna Entertainment, will visit Remington Park in early April to assess the property and operations. Since September 2007, the Oklahoma City racetrack has been on a list of possible Magna Entertainment properties that could be sold to relieve debt. "I told people when it looked like we might be sold last year, that our best survival plan was to provide the best customer experience we can for everybody,” Wells said. The track’s annual quarter horse meet — which Wells said will be the richest in the breed’s history — started earlier this month, with Remington Park offering $210,000 a day in purses. Among the races scheduled are the $750,000 Remington Park Futurity on April 18 and the $1 million Heritage Place Futurity on May 30. Still, the latest uncertainty around the track has horsemen concerned, said G.R. Carter, the career earnings leader among quarter horse jockeys and a regular rider at Remington Park. "It’s my livelihood,” Carter said. "Of course you’re concerned about whose hands it might end up in. You worry about whether or not the new owners will support quarter horse racing. "Especially now with Remington prospering like it is, you’d hate to see it go the other way.”
At a glanceAbout Magna Entertainment Magna Entertainment bought Remington Park from the Edward J. DeBartolo Corp. in November 1999 for $10 million. The company sunk about $40 million into the facility, and Remington Park’s fortunes have improved considerably since a casino opened at the track in November 2005. Other tracks owned or operated by Magna Entertainment include Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, which annually hosts the Preakness Stakes; Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.; Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas; Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.; Laurel Park in Laurel, Md.; Thistledown in North Randall, Ohio; and Portland Meadows in Portland, Ore.