Some Texas-sized Magna Shenanigans?

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Hal Lundgren of the Houston Chronicle…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!


HOUSTON, TEXAS – Horse racing and wisdom lead separate lives.

Grand Prairie’s Lone Star Park serves as the most recent example. Right now, no one seems to want to own the track.

This adventure began as just another routine acquisition. The former owner, Magna Entertainment, wanted out. A bankruptcy judge approved the $47.8-million sale more than 13 months ago.

Majority ownership would belong to three Texans: Steve Mostyn of Houston, Ricky Knox of Austin and Phil Adams of Bryan/College Station. Global Gaming of Ada, Okla., representing Oklahoma’s Chickasaw Nation, would be the minority owner. Texas law requires one or more Texans to serve as majority owner(s).

Months ago, phone calls to the three Texans raised no response, but a Global Gaming public relations consultant did phone to reveal that nobody there had anything to say.

Last week, without explanation, Global Gaming withdrew from its spot at a Texas Racing Commission hearing in Austin. TRC chairman Rolando Pablos was given neither an advance notice nor an explanation.

Reporters inquiring about the withdrawal also got stiffed.

That’s where horse racing’s wisdom void shows. The manipulation guidebook is an easy read. You phone a journalist and say, “I would dearly love to tell you everything that’s going on. There are just too many sensitive matters in play for us to go public.”

The idea? Build a relationship even if there’s no substance to provide. When unable to deliver information, deliver courtesy. Inaccessibility stirs suspicion.

Left in the dark

Clarity and consistency in reaching the public have proved important assets for most sports. Look at the NFL’s tight control over injury reports. A franchise concealing or misrepresenting an injury should open its checkbook and prepare to write a big one. Horse racing? It’s back in those days when drivers started cars with cranks. Worse, it seems to enjoy staying decades behind.

Just ask Charles England, the Grand Prairie mayor, about timely communication. He went to Austin to show support for the new owners. You’d think Global Gaming or one of the three Texans would have anticipated the mayor’s interest. They could have saved him the hours and embarrassment of a wasted trip. But then, this is horse racing.

What’s going on here? Since no one’s talking, we’re left with two options.

1. The prospective owners might sense or know they don’t have enough TRC support to take over the track. There’s that Mostyn factor. The Houston attorney and his wife were the biggest contributors to Bill White’s gubernatorial campaign to unseat Rick Perry. TRC is responsible to Perry. The political implications are almost endless.

2. Then there’s the legislative factor. Global Gaming is a skilled casino operator. Maybe research or instinct tells the company slots initiatives will fail in the 2011 Texas Legislature. Or, if a bill passes, the governor might veto it.

Still waiting …

A company representative claims Global Gaming remains committed to the purchase. Magna’s creditors hope that’s true. They’re still awaiting their millions. Makes you wonder if they, like Mayor England and Chairman Pablos, will be so rash as to wonder about the prospective owners’ plans.


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