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April 2, 2012

Racetrack standstill frustrates officials

NEW CASTLE — The face of American Harness Tracks has changed since it received the state’s final harness racetrack license on Oct. 28.

State Sen. Elder Vogel Jr., who admits that he is frustrated with the apparent lack of action by the organization, this week urged American Harness to provide the Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission with its list new investors, “so they can be vetted” by the commission.

Vogel said his concern is that board members of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, a New York hedge fund active in the project’s financing, want a place at the table.

“They should determine who will be a board member and go forward,” he said, adding the organization is losing valuable time by failing to submit its slots license application to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

“We’re told things will happen soon, but weeks go by and nothing,” he said.

STATE ALSO WAITS

Samantha Krepps of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said “no new faces” have joined American Harness since its organizational chart was submitted prior to the award of the harness racing license.

She, too, has “heard all the rumors,” but said the license is not in jeopardy of being withdrawn by the commission.

“If there are new players, new investors who are not listed on the license, they must be vetted by the commission,” she said.

This is a preliminary step before consideration by the Gaming Control Board, she said.

Krepps added that American Harness has no deadline for submitting its application to the board.

“There is no time limit,” she said. “It’s all up to them.”

According to Krepps, American Harness owners are Christine Biros, the majority share holder, with 24.4 percent of the holdings; Charles J. Long Jr., with 17.5 percent; Edson “Ted” Arneault with 10.9 percent; and others who include Charles A. Knoll, Nicholas C. Geanopulos, A. William Price, Frank Nannicola II, Armand Nannicola, Charles Nannicola, James Ronald Carna, Edward Douglas Long and Steve Lewis.

Attempts to reach Joseph Canfora of Merit Management of Chicago, who will be involved in racetrack/casino management, were not successful.

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