07/30/2001 12:00AM

The Racing Network goes out of business


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Racing Network, the multichannel service that broadcast horse and dog races, ceased operations Monday.

A partnership including Philadelphia Park owner Greenwood Racing, Golden Gate Fields owner Ladbroke Racing, and the Ontario Jockey Club launched TRN in 1999. But according to a brief statement on its website Monday afternoon, the network "was unable to achieve the subscriber growth necessary to sustain operations."

TRN, which broadcast 2,500 Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Quarter Horse, and greyhound races each week to its subscribers, did not accept account wagering, but Greenwood Racing operates a popular phone-betting service in Pennsylvania.

The Racing Network Interna-tional, an associated company that broadcasts American racing overseas, will continue operations and was not affected by the decision to close The Racing Network, the statement said.

The network was expected to broadcast a live feed of Philadelphia Park racing through Tuesday, when it was to go off the air.

Greenwood Racing principals, based at Philadelphia Park, were unavailable for comment. Calls to TRN's office were answered by a recorded message announcing the suspension of operations.

Nick Eaves, senior vice-president for marketing and business development for the OJC's Woodbine Entertainment Group, said that the OJC was "disappointed to hear of the decision." But he acknowledged that within the last two weeks, "as a company, based on the ongoing business plan and our assessment of it, we decided it didn't make sense for us to meet the cash calls coming in."

Eaves declined to offer specific details or to elaborate on the end of TRN. He added that TRN Canada, which employs about 20 people and has a production facility at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto, will continue operations.

For many of its estimated 100 employees in the United States, news of The Racing Network's demise came as a shock. Dave Gutfreund, an on-air host who is also an analyst for New York City OTB, said that TRN staff got a memo on Friday announcing a mandatory employee meeting for Monday, when TRN executive vice-president John Dickson and marketing chief Pat Scanlon announced the closure.

"We were told that a couple of investors in the group had pulled out," Gutfreund said, adding that he had been told the network would have needed three to five times its number of subscribers to reverse losses. Gutfreund said TRN was estimated to have between 10,000 and 20,000 subscribers when it shut down.