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Technology entrepreneur makes offer to buy Santa Anita, other horse racing assets

Halsey Minor says he is passionate about the sport and wants to use 3D technology, video and innovation to improve the racing business.

November 09, 2010|Eric Sondheimer

Halsey Minor, a technology entrepreneur, announced Tuesday that his Charlottesville, Va.-based Minor Racing LLC has offered to purchase substantially all of the horse racing assets of MI Developments, including the Santa Anita track, with the idea of using technology to change the sport's fortunes.

Minor Racing made an all-cash offer of $150 million to $170 million for Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Maryland Jockey Club, Amtote, XpressBet and HRTV and offered to acquire Gulfstream Park, Palm Meadows and other Florida-based racing assets for an additional $150 million in a letter to a special committee of MI Developments' board of directors.

Minor has made three other bids to purchase racing assets, "and every one has been ignored," he said.

This time he believes MI Developments' independent committee is more likely to consider the offer because it would be beneficial to shareholders.

MI Developments took over the assets of Magna Entertainment Corp, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

Minor wants to use 3D technology, video and innovation to improve the racing business. "If you are going to attract an audience today, you have to have things that make people go, 'Wow,' " he said.

Minor was the founder of CNet, an Internet media company purchased by CBS in 2008 for $1.8 billion.

He and his wife, Shannon, are listed as the state's top delinquent taxpayers by the California Franchise Tax Board, owing $13.1 million in personal income taxes. He's also in litigation with Merrill Lynch, which froze his accounts and placed liens on his property in a dispute over a $25-million loan.

Minor said he has been a longtime fan and supporter of horse racing.

"It's a sport that I am passionate about, and because I am passionate, it's worth my time, energy and money whether the sport can be resurrected," he said.

Also Tuesday, the California Horse Racing Board approved a waiver to allow Santa Anita to finish installing a dirt surface for its main track in place of a previously mandated synthetic surface.

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