Harness racing to begin at Harrah's on March 28

Posted: March 20, 2014

Harness racing season will begin March 28 at Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester following a nearly one-month suspension of its race dates by the state over what officials said was the casino's failure to provide details on the quality of its track and other information.

Harrah's casino license is contingent on the Delaware County site's offering horse racing, although the Gaming Control Board said Harrah's license was not in jeopardy at the time of the suspension in late January.

The temporary ban is not related to a lawsuit filed Monday that alleges the track's poor quality lead to a crash last fall that left a harness racing driver severely brain damaged, according to Samantha Krepps, press secretary for the state's Department of Agriculture.

Instead, Krepps said the ban was over Harrah's failure to submit information regarding its plan to market the track and a timeline to address the track's surface issues, Krepps said. The commission received that information last month, and the suspension was lifted on Feb. 27, she said.

Katie Dougherty, a spokeswoman for Harrah's, could not be reached for comment.

Lawyers for harness racing driver Anthony Coletta filed an official complaint on Monday alleging the track's condition caused an accident that left him with severe brain injuries. The attorneys had filed court documents in January indicating their intent to sue because they wanted access to the track to inspect it.

"We have reason to believe that there was a dangerous condition that the owners had knowledge of and information about," one of the lawyers, Michael Barrett, said in January. "They didn't rectify it in a timely fashion, resulting in our client's catastrophic injuries."

Lawrence Kelly, the attorney for Harrah's, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment Tuesday on the suit. He had declined to comment on the litigation in January because, he said, the matter is still being litigated.

bfinley@phillynews.com

610-313-8118

@Ben_Finley

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