01/28/2008 12:00AM

Magna names vice president of racing

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Scott Borgemenke, a former chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission, has been hired by Magna Entertainment Corp. as its executive vice president for racing, the company announced Monday.

Borgemenke, who has also had staff positions in the Ohio legislature and was most recently the chief of staff to the speaker of the state house of representatives, will be responsible for the racing operations at all of Magna’s tracks. Magna Entertainment, founded in 1999, owns or operates a dozen racetracks in the United States, including Thistledown in Ohio.

Borgemenke was a member and the chairman of the state’s racing commission from 2002 to 2004. During his tenure at the commission, Borgemenke had pressed racetracks and horsemen to agree on a calendar with fewer live racing days in order to boost the average size of purses. At the time, harness and Thoroughbred tracks raced approximately 450 days a year, despite a decade-long decline in business. The plan was never adopted.

Magna owns or operates Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields in California, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, Gulfstream Park in Florida, Lone Star Park in Texas, and a handful of other tracks.

Magna announced late last year that it is attempting to sell Thistledown as part of a strategy by the company to reduce its debt and rid its balance sheet of money-losing operations. In 2006, the company had lobbied heavily to get approval of a ballot issue in Ohio asking voters to permit slot machines at racetracks, but the referendum was defeated soundly at the polls.