08/13/2002 11:00PM

Magna board pair step down

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Joe Harper, the president of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and J. Terrence Lanni, the chairman of MGM Grand-Mirage Inc., have resigned from their positions on the board of racetrack operator Magna Entertainment Corp., Harper and a spokesman for Lanni said Wednesday.

Harper and Lanni's spokesman, Alan Feldman, both cited their responsibilities in their current positions as the reason for the resignations.

Harper submitted his resignation Aug. 5 effective immediately, while Lanni's resignation will not be effective until the end of August.

"I'm kind of a working stiff here at Del Mar," said Harper. "At times, there were some uneasy feelings that I couldn't give 100 percent to Del Mar and at the same time look out for the best interests of Magna shareholders. There's nothing more to it than that."

The resignations come at perhaps the most turbulent time in Magna's three-year existence. Several weeks ago, the company announced second-quarter earings that missed the estimates of most analysts, some of whom then downgraded the company's stock, leading to a precipitous decline in the company's stock price.

Officials for Magna, which has ownership interests in 10 tracks and has deals pending for four more, said at the time the earnings were announced that it will hold off on making any more new acquisitions while focusing on making the company more profitable.

Officials for Magna Entertainment did not return phone calls on Wednesday.