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Horse racing group says National Harbor casino ‘kills Rosecroft’

Two days before the start of a special session of the General Assembly that could pave the way for a casino to be constructed at National Harbor, advocates for a different casino site in Prince George’s County made sure legislators knew what a casino at the gleaming Potomac River development would mean for Rosecroft Raceway.

“We are very hopeful that the future of Rosecroft Raceway and the Standardbred industry are considered when the special session convenes in Annapolis,”  said Sharon Roberts, executive vice president of Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association. “A casino at National Harbor will be the final blow to Rosecroft and will destroy our industry. We are so disappointed that County Executive [Rushern L.] Baker would be willing to put the futures of our horsemen, the tracks employees and our breeding industry at risk just as we have begun to rebuild it.

“I hope our legislators will keep our futures in mind when they meet in special session and hope they understand that a casino at National Harbor kills Rosecroft,” Roberts said.

Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns Rosecroft and on Tuesday agreed to a 2-year contract extension to continue harness racing at the track, spent more than $800,000 during the legislature’s regular session lobbying lawmakers to allow a casino at Rosecroft, the most spent by any employer or interest group. Still, legislation that will be introduced in the Senate Thursday is expected to favor National Harbor, where MGM Resorts International Inc. wants to build an $800 million resort casino to cater to wealthy residents of Northern Virginia and visitors to Washington, D.C.

Penn National’s agreement with the horse owners calls for 100 percent of all races to be Maryland preferred with 54 days of live racing to be conducted on two nights of racing per week. There will also be a spring and fall meet.

The agreement allows racing to continue “provided there is no casino approved for a location other than Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County,” a Penn National statement said.