06/18/2003 12:00AM

Melnyk buys Senators of NHL


Eugene Melnyk, a prominent Thoroughbred owner and breeder in both Canada and United States, is now the official owner of the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators and the team's home arena, the Corel Centre.

The NHL board of governors unanimously approved the sale late Tuesday, and while the purchase price was not disclosed, earlier reports had pegged the value of the team alone at $71.8 million.

Ottawa made it to the semifinals this year before losing a seventh and deciding game in its series with the New Jersey Devils, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Melnyk, 44, who owns horses in partnership with his wife, Laura, has most of his U.S.-based horses with trainer Todd Pletcher and the bulk of his Canadian outfit with Mark Casse at Woodbine.

Last year, the Melnyk horses earned more than $2.6 million in North America to rank 15th on the owners list.