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Horsemen fire back at Philadelphia Park

19 June 2007

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- The Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has filed a motion seeking the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to dismiss Greenwood Gaming's petition to have its current facility deemed permanent. The move followed false reports last week by Greenwood Gaming that it had asked the Gaming Board to ignore its earlier petition, when in fact it had merely filed a Motion for Continuance, requesting that a hearing on the petition be delayed until October 2007. The move marks the latest effort by the Horsemen in its ongoing battle with Philadelphia Park over conditions at the track and efforts to require the casino to fulfill its legal obligation to invest $300 million in a new facility.

"This is just another example of why Greenwood Gaming is not to be trusted," said Michael P. Ballezzi, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "There has been a public backlash against Philadelphia Park's proposal. With increasing public scrutiny, I think Philadelphia Park realized it was in a very weak position to claim that construction of a new facility was no longer prudent or feasible."

"They have operated in bad faith throughout this entire process," said Ballezzi. "We believe Greenwood Gaming realized it had no factual basis to justify their petition, which is why we are asking the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to dismiss the petition outright. Barring that, we are requesting the right to discovery and a date certain for a hearing, both to begin the process of probing Greenwood Gaming's allegations and future plans for Philadelphia Park and to ensure that Greenwood does not seek repeated continuances."

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in early June granted the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association with intervener status in Greenwood Gaming's petition and set a date of July 9th for evidentiary hearings. The motion for continuance filed by Greenwood Gaming seeks to delay the hearing until October 2007 to allow for completion of a new master plan for the site. Ballezzi pointed out that contrary to some media reports, Greenwood did not request additional time to complete construction. He also expressed serious concerns about further delay in resolving the issue given the timeframe required by the gaming statute.

"Under the statute, Philadelphia Park is required to have a permanent facility completed by September 2008, with the possibility of a one year extension," said Ballezzi. "Philadelphia Park will be hard-pressed to meet that statutory deadline, and I question whether they truly ever had any intention to do so. Philadelphia Park wants to bring in the cash from slot machines without making the capital investment in their facilities that they promised."

"Horseracing at Philadelphia Park is slowly being killed off because of the conditions we are forced to operate under," said Ballezzi, citing a 26 percent drop in live horse-betting at the racetrack for the month of April. "Philadelphia Park committed to build a new facility that would have improved conditions for horseracing fans and slots patrons alike. It needs to be forced to keep that commitment."

"To the extent Greenwood Gaming filed its petition without proper basis and is not prepared to prove the vague and conclusory allegations in the petition, the petition should be dismissed," reads the filing by the Horsemen. The filing also notes the petition should be dismissed because it was filed in "bad faith and without any valid basis."

Currently, Philadelphia Park only possesses a conditional gaming license. The award of a permanent gaming license is the major stick available to the Gaming Control Board to require casino applicants to make the financial investments in their facilities promised during the licensure process. By having the current facility deemed permanent, Philadelphia Park would remove the deadline to complete construction by a new facility by 2009. In addition, there would be no regulatory or legal mechanism to force Philadelphia Park to move ahead with the $300 million investment at any time in the future.

The Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is a statewide organization representing owners and trainers at Philadelphia Park Racetrack.

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