The future of the Preakness Stakes being run in Baltimore was up in the air for a few months, but it will remain in its current home. Lawmakers were able to get a bill passed that will set aside funding for a pair of iconic racetracks in the state of Maryland.
Senate Bill 987 was previously passed by lawmakers in the state, and it was up to the governor to make the final decision. Governor Larry Hogan did not sign the bill, but he let the bill become a law by not vetoing it.
The bill gives the Maryland Stadium Authority the ability to release $375 million in bonds to fix up the two biggest racetracks in the state. Pimlico Race Course, which is the current host of the Preakness Stakes, and Laurel Park will both see massive renovations as a part of this deal.
The money is set to be repaid through subsidies that each track receives from the casinos located throughout the state of Maryland. These subsidies will be repaid over a 30-year span.
At least $180 million will go towards turning Pimlico Race Course into a multipurpose development. The city of Baltimore will own the new development, or an outside entity will bid to take possession.
Both of the race tracks are currently owned by The Stronach Group, and they would continue to host the Preakness at Pimlico even during the renovation process. The Stronach Group and the city of Baltimore reached an agreement last fall that would keep the second leg of the Triple Crown at the traditional location.
The Preakness draws close to 100,000 fans each year, and temporary seating would have to be installed each year before the race. The current clubhouse at Pimlico will be turned into a community center that hosts other major events.
The Stronach Group has previously threatened to move the Preakness from Pimlico to Laurel Park unless more funding was put in place for a renovation project. Pimlico Race Course is largely run down, and Laurel Park is a much better place to host such an iconic race.
City officials were forced to take the matter to court to keep the Preakness in Baltimore. With lawmakers officially passing a redevelopment bill, the point is now moot, and both sides can move forward with the new agreement.
Laurel Park Renovations
Laurel Park will be transformed into a year-round racing facility in the state of Maryland, and it could attract other big-name races in the near future. Leaders of The Stronach Group called the new law a landmark day for the horse racing industry and the city of Baltimore.
Even though the renovation of Pimlico is the biggest news to come out of this deal, Laurel Park will also see some major renovations. Work is expected to begin very soon on both race tracks, and lawmakers believe that the projects will help aid in the coronavirus recovery efforts.
Now that the future of the Preakness Stakes remains safe in Baltimore, the next step is to decide when the 2020 race will take place. The Preakness was supposed to be run next Saturday, but that will not take place.
The state of Maryland has still not allowed race tracks to reopen in the state, and Pimlico Race Course is currently being used as a COVID-19 testing site. The Stronach Group announced last month that they would reschedule the race, but they have yet to decide on a date.
Sources indicated that the Preakness would be run on Oct. 3, but the Stronach Group has denied those reports.