07/07/2004 11:00PM

Fair Grounds plan approved

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A bankruptcy court judge in New Orleans on Thursday approved an amended financial disclosure statement filed by Fair Grounds Race Course, paving the way for the track to be auctioned in bankruptcy court Aug. 16.

In early June, some Fair Grounds creditors, notably the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, lodged objections to the financial disclosure statement the track filed in April with its Chapter 11 reorganization plan. The differences had been ironed out before Thursday's hearing, according to Jan Hayden, a Fair Grounds bankruptcy attorney, leading to a quick decision.

"We had met with all their people ahead of time and worked things out," Hayden said.

Fair Grounds will go into the August court auction having reached a $45 million asset-purchase agreement with Churchill Downs Inc. Other entities can surpass that bid, but Churchill's offer is thought to be substantial.

The Louisiana horsemen's group was awarded a legal settlement worth about $89 million earlier this year, resulting from a lawsuit filed by the horsemen alleging that Fair Grounds had taken improper deductions from video poker machines. Fair Grounds then filed for bankruptcy as protection against the award.