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Racing At Rosecroft A Family Affair

Published: October 21, 2011 10:33 am ET

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When live racing returns to Rosecroft Raceway tonight after a three-year absence, it will be something of a homecoming for the Offutt family.

Joe Offutt and his sons, Chris and Timmy, will be among the trainers and drivers returning to the Fort Washington, Maryland harness racing facility for opening night. Joe Offutt, a former leading driver and trainer at Rosecroft, followed his father, Bernard, in racing at the track.

“It’s a family thing,” said Offutt, a 58-year-old Woodsboro, Maryland resident. “My dad raced there a lot of years. I was 18 when I started driving there. I’ve been there a lot of years. It’s real good having it open up again. It was pretty tough on us when the track closed. That’s where we were making money to keep going here, paying bills.”

Rosecroft closed for live racing in May 2008. The track was purchased out of bankruptcy for $11 million earlier this year by Penn National Gaming Inc., which spent an additional $1.5 million to get the facility up and running.

“The entire staff has worked very hard to get this facility back into shape,” said Chris McErlean, vice president of Racing for Penn National Gaming Inc. “We are excited to bring live racing back and to bring employment opportunities to the local community.”

Rosecroft will host a 20-date meet the remainder of this year, racing every Friday and Saturday through December 17. Thursdays will be added to that schedule for December 8 and 15. First-race post time will be 6:45 p.m. nightly.

Friday’s opening night features 10 races. Admission and parking are free.

“We’re really excited,” said Sharon Roberts, the executive director of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners’ Association. “Fans can’t wait to see live racing again at Rosecroft. When I walk through the clubhouse, people just cannot wait. It’s nice to see that.

“Penn National has been great. We couldn’t ask for better partners in racing than Penn National.”

Sean Bier, a trainer and driver that lives in Delaware but is no stranger to racing at Rosecroft, is bringing two horses to Rosecroft for opening night.

“I just want to go over there and support them,” Bier said. “Hopefully, they’ll get the ball rolling and be successful. It would be nice to have another track in the area.

“It’s a really nice racetrack. If they passed (expanded) gambling, it would be a really nice spot. I think it would bring in a lot of revenue because of the area.”

Penn National, which will offer a 54-date meet at Rosecroft in 2012, is hoping to get slots at the track in the future.

The return of racing at Rosecroft, in addition to bringing jobs to the community, is welcomed by area horsemen because it means fewer trips out of state to compete.

“It saves on fuel and mileage and wear and tear,” said Chris Offutt, one of Joe Offutt’s sons. “I drive at the (Pennsylvania) fairs for my dad most of the summer. But this is where my dad started out; that’s how he made a go of it. And it helps us get a start, too, the younger generation.”

Joe Offutt was looking forward to racing at Rosecroft again. Even more so, he was hoping to visit one special spot at the track – the winner’s circle.

“That would be nice,” Offutt said, adding with a laugh, “Hopefully, we’ll make some money.”


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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