Magna Entertainment Corp. says in bankruptcy court filings it won't consider auction bids that would move the Preakness Stakes horse race from Maryland, a decision cheered Tuesday by Gov. Martin O'Malley.
The Ontario, Canada-based company submitted auction plans Friday in federal bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Del.
Concerned about the future of the second leg of the Triple Crown, Maryland lawmakers had approved legislation in April giving Maryland eminent domain authority to buy the race, a centerpiece of Maryland's horse racing industry.
"Maryland has a rich tradition of horse racing and horse breeding, and these industries generate thousands of jobs and millions of dollars for the local economy," O'Malley said in a statement, adding that he was pleased at Magna's decision.
The race has been run each May since 1909 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The O'Malley administration has estimated that Maryland race tracks generate about 20,000 jobs and have an annual economic impact of $1.5 billion.
Magna has asked a federal bankruptcy judge to hold a Jan. 8 auction for the Maryland Jockey Club assets, which include Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County and the Bowie Training Center in Prince George's County.
Magna wrote in the court filings that it disagrees with the state's asserted right of first refusal, saying it "may be unconstitutional and present a chilling effect on the debtors' sales efforts."
"As a consequence, the debtors reserve the right to address such provision if they believe appropriate," the company said in the court filings.
The company's proposal notes that a 60-day period for the state's statutory right of first refusal, if any, would begin on Nov. 9, and the state would have to inform Magna by Jan. 8 whether the state will participate in the auction.
Baltimore developer David Cordish has said his firm will bid on Pimlico, Laurel Park and the Preakness, and that he also is interested in purchasing the training center in Bowie. Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, a successful hometown lawyer, has expressed a willingness to back the effort to keep the Preakness in Maryland.
The 135th Preakness is scheduled for May 15, 2010.