Wed, 6 November 1996
There has been alot going on in Texas in regards to horseracing. So much, in fact, I don't know where to start. I guess I'll start with the catalyst for everything, for me. I received information that TrM was going to be auctioned off in Weatherford this week. I had heard nothing about this in the papers, which are generally right on top of everything. I then went in search of the information to either prove or disprove what I had heard. I started with Dr. Ken Quirk. I figured that as an executive member of the board at the Tx TB Ass'n, he would know something about what was going on. He had not heard anything about the purported auction. We had a nice conversation, which I will get back to later.
I was pretty sure the auction wouldn't happen, but my curiosity was piqued. I was not sure exactly who would be best to talk to about the situation, but I figured that Gary West, who writes accurate, up to date articles for The Dallas Morning News might be a good place to start. He seems to have ears in every little corner of the horse racing world. I called and left a voice mail message for him outlining the information that I had heard, left him my work number, and waited.
After an hour or so, the situation was again niggling in the back of my mind, so I decided to call the Parker County Courthouse to see what they knew. All they knew was that an auction was occurring, in fact, that very morning, but had no idea what was being sold or whom I needed to contact about what was being sold. I had hit a dead end. Hmm. Roger, being a former law enforcement officer, told me that who I needed to talk to was the sheriff's dept, as they are responsible for auctioning off property such as that. Called the Parker County Sheriff's dept. Yes, they had held an auction that morning, but no, it was not TrM. Funny, the woman said, I was not the only person to have called and asked that question. Hmm. That made me figure *something* was going on.
Just then, a few short hours after I called, Gary Wesy returned my call. What a pleasant fellow. I outlined the information that I had received, and what he told me was this: As we know, there has been a dispute regarding ownership issues of TrM. Back in August, recall that a court date to settle the dispute was imminent. The ownership dispute has yet to be settled. Friday, there will be a last ditch effort at the courthouse to iron out the issues, and all shareholders of the track must be present. If the ownership issues are not settled at that time, the Weatherford National Bank, who holds the first lien on TrM, will be auctioning this lien off at the Parker County courthouse. This will not happen until December 5th. So, that is the deal with TrM.
However, that did not end my conversation with Mr. West. We chatted some about the fact that Jeff Hooper, excutive director of the TTBA, has turned in his resignation (which Ken Quirk had told me when I called). Jeff has been a real asset to the TTBA, and we will miss him sorely. I certainly wish him the best in whatever he does, and I have confidence that he will be very successful in whatever he choses to do. What I did not know was that four current board members also turned in their resignations, as well. Lynda Carruth, Larry Huntsinger, Robert Lewis, and Bill McMorris also decided to leave. In addition, Bob Folsom, who had been slated to run for a seat on the board, decided to withdraw. These resignations may delay the yearly election of board members which occurs between the end of November and the beginning of December. Mr. West and I both felt that this mass exodus indicated something afoot, but we weren't sure what. The story unfolded a little bit further when I read last night on the Blood Horse on-line that these resignations had been spurred over a dispute concerning TTBA sales director Clay Murray's recent sale of two horses in the TTBA fall mixed sale. Since this dispute, new rules have been implemented to prevent the situation which caused the fallout. More on that at a later date.
Mr. West had yet another gem of information to share with me. This regarding the recent Texas Racing Commission meeting, which he attended but because of company policy someone else did the write up on. We know how the TRC voted to delay the opening of LSP due to projected construction deficits by December which might compromise safety of horse and rider. We know that the TRC suspended the TrM with the option of completely taking it away if the proper requirements are not met by April 1. What we did not hear about, was that the commission proposed rules which would change the distribution of simulcasting revenues in favor of the tracks. Surprisingly, the horsemen did not mount a vehement protest. These rule changeswere probably proposed in an effort to help SHRP and Retama out. The rules have not yet been changed, so I would expect we'll hear a good bit of debate on the issue in the future.
The Blood Horse on-line had another news tidbit that I was unaware of. The Dallas based company of Patriot American Hospitality Inc. has purchased the north California track Bay Meadows after a bidding war with Franklin Resources. The final sale price was $33 per share, which is an increase from the 1996 share price of $13-15. The total value of the purchase is estimated at $195M. Bay Meadows horsemen and fans alike will be happy that PAH plans on keeping live racing. PAH's portfolio includes such full-service hotels as Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Embassy Suites, and Doubletree. This purchase pleases PAH, Bay Meadows, and the California Jockey Club. The only question I have is why did they not invest in LSP? Too risky for them, I guess.
Well, that is al I can think of for the time being. Hope all is well on the home front.
Life is not a spectator sport
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