For months now there have been ongoing discussions about the Preakness Stakes. The Preakness is the second jewel of the Triple Crown and has always been held at Baltimore’s Pimlico Racecourse. There were those who sought to move the Preakness to another location, but now a tentative deal has been reached between the city of Baltimore and the owners of the race track.
A Prestigious Horse Race and a 149-Year-Old Race Track
There has been a long concern about the state of the Pimlico race track in Baltimore, Maryland. Built 149 years ago, the track was once among the best racing venues on the East Coast. It even hosted the legendary match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral during the Great Depression. For almost all of those years the track has also been home to the Preakness Stakes.
The Preakness is the second race in the Triple Crown series which also includes the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. It is the shortest race of the three, and the small Pimlico track has always made for an interesting contest. Taking the Preakness out of Baltimore and Pimlico would be a serious blow to horse racing history.
There are multiple problems associated with keeping the race at Pimlico. Perhaps the most pressing issue is the state of the track facilities. The track buildings are in need of serious repair. The funding for improving the race track has been a source of tension between city leaders and the owners of the track. Things came to a head when the city filed a lawsuit against the Stronach Group which owns the race track. The owners only committed to keeping the Preakness race at Pimlico through 2020.
A more serious problem is the location of the track itself. As the modern city of Baltimore has grown up around the race track, Pimlico has become the center of one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. Violence in the city is high, and the location of the track is in one of the more violent areas. This is a problem each year when the dignitaries of horse racing show up to attend the Preakness Stakes.
A Pimlico Solution
The Baltimore Sun has reported that the Stronach Group has offered to donate the land on which Pimlico sits to the city, or give it to an organization the city creates to manage the track location. The terms of the agreement are that the grandstand of Pimlico would be torn down and a new one built. A new clubhouse would be constructed. The track itself would also be rotated 30 degrees.
Moving the track is being proposed so that nine parcels of land can be created behind the race track. These parcels could then be sold to private developers. $199.5 million has been allocated to the Pimlico restoration project. The project also stipulates other measures to be taken by the Stronach Group. The company’s other race tracks and training centers in the state would be revamped or sold. An addition $170 million would be set aside for improvements at the Laurel Park race track in another part of the state.
If the plan is successful city leaders believe that it could keep the Preakness in Baltimore permanently. This would preserve the history of the race, and it would also preserve the revenues that the city receives each year from attendance at the Preakness Stakes.
State Lawmakers Must Approve
The deal between the Stronach Group and the City of Baltimore will need to be approved by state lawmakers. This has some concerned that the deal will not go through or that it will be delayed. If it is pushed beyond the 2020 deadline mandated by the owners then the city could risk losing the track.
Getting state approval is not a guaranteed process. The matter has to be taken up by legislators who have more pressing things on their plate. 2020 being a major election year does not help matters. There are also those in the state who oppose gambling that may voice opposition.
If the project is approved by the state then the construction could begin in a very short period of time. Officials on both sides have stated that the Preakness Stakes will remain in Baltimore while the racetrack construction is taking place. It could take as long as three years for all of the improvements to be made to the track.
What is At Stake for The Preakness Stakes and Baltimore?
There is much at stake for the city with this deal. Mainly there is the fact that the race will remain in Baltimore where the city can benefit from its popularity and media attention. Tourist dollars are important to any city, and Baltimore is not especially filled with tourist attractions. The Preakness is an event that draws many people to the state each year. Those people spend money.
For the race itself there are also things at stake. For one its history can be preserved. Some horsemen appreciate the fact that the race is contested on the same grounds where Seabiscuit and War Admiral ran their match race, and where Secretariat set a track record. It gives them a sense of the race’s legacy to compete there.
Racing fans can take hope that the Preakness Stakes will remain in Baltimore for many years to come. It will continue to be a site where history can be made each year. Check our Bovada racebook review, Twinspires review or even our Betamerica review. All great choice if you are in the US. 5Dimes review for folks anywhere!