02/24/2010 1:00AM

Auction of Magna's Maryland tracks postponed


An auction of the two Maryland tracks owned by the bankrupt racing company Magna Entertainment has been pushed back for the fourth time, to March 25, and may be delayed again, according to court papers.

The tracks, Laurel and Pimlico, were scheduled to go to auction on Tuesday, but Magna requested that the auction be delayed to the March date. A court order approving the rescheduling noted that the auction and a hearing to approve any sale of the tracks "may be further adjourned."

Magna, which filed for bankruptcy on March 6, 2009, submitted a reorganization plan to the court on Feb. 18. The plan would require Magna to sell the two Maryland tracks and distribute half of the proceeds from the sale over $20 million to its unsecured creditors. The first $20 million would go to Magna's parent company and largest creditor, MI Developments.

The court has scheduled a hearing for March 23 to approve the reorganization plan.

While the value of any property going into an auction is hard to predict, the value of the two Maryland tracks is especially hard to pin down because of uncertainty over whether the tracks will receive a license to operate slot machines. Magna's initial application for the only slot-machine license allowed by law in Anne Arundel County was rejected and granted instead to a real-estate development company, The Cordish Cos. However, Magna has organized a petition to overturn zoning approvals for the casino which were granted to Cordish by the county in December.

Six entities submitted bids for Laurel and Pimlico in December. The bidders included the Cordish Cos.; the family of a former co-owner of the tracks, Joe De Francis; Penn National Gaming Inc.; and the Blow Horn Group, which is headed by Jeff Seder, the owner of a racehorse consulting company.