Family-owned Delaware Park, where the state’s biggest thoroughbred horse race takes place annually, is being sold to a private equity firm and a gambling investor, as announced on Saturday. Having been operated by the Rickman family since the early 80s, the transaction for Delaware Park is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The new owners will be Canada-based Clairvest Group Inc. and Rubico Gaming LLC, a newly formed subsidiary run by investor Thomas Benninger. As reported by the Associated Press, Delaware Park President Bill Fasy said he is not aware of any immediate operational changes to the home of the yearly Delaware Handicap.
The prospective purchase started taking form about a year ago, when the Rickman family was first approached by Clairvest. On that episode, Fasy reflected that “they felt this was the right time to sell”. He also explained that Delaware Park will be the 30th casino and racetrack Clairvest has invested in.
Delaware Park was first developed by William du Pont Jr. in the 1930s, and was known as the only major East Coast track, along with the Aqueduct in New York that raced in June.
In 1983, Maryland-based real estate developer William Rickman Sr. purchased the track after it closed due to financial issues. The business was up and running again as he offered smaller purses, which attracted cheaper horses. As legislation allowed slot machines at the track in 1996, competition saw a major improvement.
For a decade, Rickman operated the business and then handed it over to his son. The Rickman family also used to be the owner of Ocean Downs, the Maryland casino and horse racing track.
Rubico Gaming was recently on the scope after having purchased Caesars' Harrah's Louisiana Downs for $22 million on the first week of November, keeping most of the property's employees and the brand's rewards program despite the buyout.