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TOC Formalizes Santa Anita Acquisition Strategy

The Thoroughbred Owners of California, a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation (“TOC”) has spearheaded the formation of a new nonprofit California public benefit corporation known as Thoroughbred Racing Association of California (“TRAC”). TRAC’s sole purpose is to acquire and operate the assets of Santa Anita Park and, if successful in acquiring Santa Anita Park, potentially purchasing the assets of Golden Gate Fields.
The parent company of Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields, Magna Entertainment Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 5, 2009 and is in the process of selling assets as part of a court-approved bankruptcy plan.
Santa Anita Park is widely acclaimed as one of the most prestigious thoroughbred horse racing facilities in the world. Many of the most prominent races in the United States have been held at Santa Anita Park, including this year’s Breeders’ Cup races.
The TOC board of directors has formed an Acquisition Committee comprised of established business leaders with personal ties to the thoroughbred racing industry. Arnold Zetcher, the former President and CEO of Talbots, Inc., serves as the Acquisition Committee’s chairperson. Other members of the committee include Brian Boudreau, owner of Malibu Valley Farms, Inc., Pete Parrella, owner of Legacy Ranch Inc., and thoroughbred owner and breeder William de Burgh. Messrs. Zetcher, Boudreau, and Parrella sit on the board of directors of the TOC. Mr. de Burgh sits on the board of directors for the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
Although the committee has been working for several months on the acquisition, the TOC felt that it was appropriate at this time to formalize the structure as the process continues. If successful in its bid, Mr. Zetcher would serve as Chairman and the members of the Acquisition Committee would serve as the interim board of directors of TRAC in order to ensure stability while a permanent board of directors is compiled.
TRAC was formed as a nonprofit entity to ensure that thoroughbred racing is preserved in California in perpetuity. Net income will be reinvested into the racetrack(s), their operations and purses. Several leading organizations in the industry, including the California Thoroughbred Foundation, California Thoroughbred Trainers, and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association have added their support to the TOC in its efforts. Additionally, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fairplex Park, and Oak Tree Racing Association, all nonprofit organizations, support the concept of establishing a nonprofit corporation to own the racetracks.
“We are trying to do what’s right, both for thoroughbred racing in southern California and for the employees of Santa Anita Park. We believe that acquiring Santa Anita Park is a unique opportunity to preserve the vibrancy and character of thoroughbred racing in the State of California,” says Mr. Zetcher.
Bob Baffert, a prominent trainer and also a member of the TOC board, stated, “Santa Anita Park is essential to horse racing in California. I wholeheartedly support the efforts of Mr. Zetcher and the Acquisition Committee in its efforts to preserve quality horse racing in Southern California.”
The TOC has retained Global Leisure Partners LLC (“GLP”), a leading merger and acquisitions advisor in the gaming, leisure and entertainment industries to assist it in its acquisition of Santa Anita Park. Individuals interested in further information should contact Chris Mulligan or Rob Britton at Global Leisure Partners LLC. Messrs. Mulligan and Britton may be reached at (212) 605-7650.

September 10, 2009

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