The Preakness will remain a fixture at timeworn Pimlico Race Course, which will receive a much-needed facelift following the passing of a bill to redevelop Maryland tracks.
Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday permitted a bill to become law that would enable the Maryland Stadium Authority to issue up to $375 million in bonds to refurbish Pimlico and Laurel Park. The money would be paid back by the Maryland Lottery and casino proceeds already designated to subsidize the racing industry.
This year’s Preakness was scheduled for May 16 at Pimlico but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. A new date has not yet been set.
For the past several years, the Preakness was run on the third Saturday in May amid speculation that the prestigious race would ultimately be forced to leave Pimlico, which opened in 1870 and was clearly showing its age. Now, with a pending overhaul of Pimlico and the accompanying plan to augment the surrounding neighborhood, the second jewel of the Triple Crown will stay in Baltimore for years to come.
“This is truly a defining moment in the history of the Maryland thoroughbred racing industry and the state, and we are most appreciative,” said Alan Rifkin, counsel for the Maryland Jockey Club and Preakness Stakes.
The Racing and Community Development Act is designed to upgrade Pimlico for racing and convert it into a multipurpose venue. When it’s not staging races, the track’s clubhouse and facilities will be used for community activities, recreational purposes, civic events and other public purposes.
The goal for Laurel Park: To make it a racing and training facility with an equine diagnostic center, new racing and training surfaces, and modern stables and barns.
The Stronach Group, which owns both tracks, is delighted to be given the opportunity to improve the look of Maryland horse racing.
“The legislation paves the way for an enhanced Preakness in Baltimore, the revitalization of year-round racing at Laurel Park and reinvestment in the many communities of interest near and related to the racing industry,” said Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of The Stronach Group.
Source: Associated Press – DAVID GINSBURG