It’s back to the starting gate for both Bedford Downs and Valley View Downs in Beaver County.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court yesterday issued a ruling that would allow both to return to the state harness racing commission.

In November 2005, the commission rejected both applications. They appealed to the Commonwealth Court, which upheld the rejection of Valley View but urged the commission to reconsider Bedford’s application. Valley View appealed to the Supreme Court which heard arguments in April.

In its ruling, the high court reversed the Commonwealth Court’s ruling that favored Bedford’s application and it affirmed the lower court’s rejection of Valley View’s application. Yesterday’s ruling essentially upholds the racing commission’s rejection of both applicants and says the racing commission was correct to question Bedford’s financial plan and to reject Valley View’s proposed size and track layout.

In addition, the court said its decision was “without prejudice” meaning both applicants now may return to the commission to request reconsideration for their racing license applications.

However, the court did not indicate if additional applicants also may be considered for the state’s fourth and final harness license. The successful applicant is almost assured of approval for an accompanying license to operate a casino with 3,000 slot machines.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board already has issued six racetrack slots licenses and has one more to award. Three of the six went to thoroughbred racing tracks.

Bedford and Valley View outlasted earlier competition for the final harness license and the two have competed for it in the past four years.

“It’s not my first choice for how I’d liked to have seen the court rule,” Carmen Shick said this morning. “We’re still reading the opinion and I’m not sure what to think yet.”

Shick and his partners, who include his brother Ken Shick and sister Kendra Tabak, propose a multi-milliondollar harness racetrack and casino on 550 acres of reclaimed strip mined property in Mahoning Township.

“We are encouraged by the Supreme Court’s directive that Valley View Downs can reapply ... for reconsideration of its application,” Rick Kelly, a Valley View spokesman said in a prepared statement.

“We are prepared to address any of the commission’s concerns regarding the site and track design issues.”

Valley View Downs, proposed by Indiana-based Centaur Inc., is a racetrack-casino planned for Beaver County’s South Beaver Township.

Under Act 71, which allows slot machine gambling in Pennsylvania, if the state harness racing commission does not award the final racetrack license by July 2009, the casino license can be converted to a slots license for a stand-alone casino

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