BALTIMORE (AP) Pimlico Race Course is all gussied up once more this week, able to host the Preakness on a day that may allow the 148-yr-previous monitor to outlive one other yr.
Previous Hilltop is displaying its age, nevertheless, and it’ll value greater than 1 / 4-billion dollars to make it proper. So whereas the group that owns and operates Pimlico guarantees the center jewel of the Triple Crown will keep put by means of subsequent yr, there’s an opportunity that the 145th operating of the Preakness in 2020 will probably be held inside the state at newer, brisker Laurel Park.
A lot is dependent upon an ongoing research by the Maryland Stadium Authority. The preliminary part of the investigation decided that it might value between $250 million and $320 million to renovate Pimlico. The second part of the research is predicted to be accomplished by the top of the yr.
”By then, we should always know what the longer term holds,” stated Tim Ritvo, chief working officer of the Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico and Laurel Park.
Pimlico – and the Stronach Group – might get a shot within the arm from the Supreme Courtroom ruling Monday that might permit states to legalize sports activities betting.
”We’re already taking a look at alternatives the place we will put sports activities books in our properties in Maryland,” Ritvo stated. ”It’s an added amenity for a buyer at an already present playing institution.”
Corridor of Fame coach D. Wayne Lukas believes that’s a viable choice.
”You is perhaps stunned who would present up right here to guess sports activities,” the eighty two-yr-previous Lukas stated whereas sitting outdoors the stakes barn on Tuesday. ”In Maryland, if sports activities betting and horse racing can maintain palms on an settlement on a contract, this factor may flip round a bit bit.”
But when sports activities betting is legalized in Maryland, it can take some time – probably even too lengthy to deal with Pimlico’s wants. Maryland would wish to approve a state constitutional modification and legislators balked at passing a invoice this yr to place it on the poll in November.
That stalemate was largely as a result of disagreements about who must be allowed to have sports activities betting – casinos and/or horse racing tracks. There was additionally concern that not an enormous sum of money was at stake within the brief time period.
So, until legislators maintain a particular session between now and November to place it on the poll – legalized sports activities betting gained’t occur in Maryland till at the very least 2020.
Lukas, who has gained the Preakness six occasions and has two entrants in Saturday’s race, shook his head when requested concerning the prospect of shifting the race.
”I might be actually, actually dissatisfied in the event that they did,” Lukas stated. ”That is an awfully good facility for that day. I do know the grandstand is previous and all the things, however everyone has an excellent time right here. It’s a fixture in Baltimore, that’s for positive.”
The Preakness drew a document crowd of one hundred forty,327 final yr, and the Black-Eyed Susan card at some point earlier attracted 50,339.
However on most days, the horses at Pimlico run earlier than a smattering of followers. This yr’s Preakness is the spotlight of a meager 12-day meet of stay racing.
Again in its heyday, Pimlico hosted most of the sport’s most memorable races: Seabiscuit’s match race with Struggle Admiral in 1938; Man o’ Struggle’s debut in 1920 with a shocking win over Upset; and Secretariat’s final-to-first victory throughout his Triple Crown run in 1973.
However that was a very long time in the past.
There will not be sufficient paint, concrete and bricks to provide Pimlico the makeover it sorely wants. Although work crews have discovered a strategy to make the monitor presentable yearly on the third Saturday in Might, the perfect plan of action simply could be to tear it down and construct it over from the bottom up.
”What we’re doing is beneath-serving the client on the Preakness within the venue we’re in proper now,” Ritvo stated. ”A method or one other, we both want a brand new facility that may accommodate such a particular occasion, or we have to transfer it will definitely. Not as a result of it’s a cash-seize for the Stronach Group. What it’s about is creating an surroundings for yr-spherical racing.”
A number of years in the past, Pimlico hosted a stay card on Kentucky Derby day, however extra individuals confirmed up at Laurel to guess on simulcast races, Ritvo famous.
”Most Fortune 500 corporations would run the Preakness for 2 days and depart, say it’s a fantastic occasion and it’s worthwhile,” Ritvo stated. ”However being the stewards of this occasion, we now have to take a look at what it’s going to be one hundred years down the street.”
Towards that finish, the Stronach Group is taking a look at Laurel Park – situated 29 miles south of Pimlico – as a viable choice.
”We’ve had discussions of what it will be like at Laurel, however not intimately,” Ritvo stated. ”There are many choices at Laurel. Our focus at Laurel was to proceed to enhance the power for yr-spherical racing, after which additionally to host a Breeders’ Cup there very quickly.”
Beneath state regulation, the race could be moved to a different monitor in Maryland ”solely because of a catastrophe or emergency.”
Ritvo is aware of the regulation, and he isn’t trying to create points.
”The reality of the matter is, we don’t need to be disruptive or battle with anybody,” he stated. ”The Preakness is all the time going to be a Maryland occasion. And if Laurel sometime is a greater location, extra worthwhile and makes extra sense and works, we hope the state would see that and perceive it.
”There’s going to be a big funding wanted to rebuild Pimlico. We’re not asking for them to try this, but when they need to do this and have that within the core of their coronary heart, then we’re prepared to pay attention.”
Related Press Author Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland contributed to this report.
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