Maryland to Buy Historic Pimlico Race Course for $1

Posted on: May 16, 2024, 06:03h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2024, 09:09h.

The Stronach Group, owner of Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course – home of the Preakness Stakes – will sell the historic track to the State of Maryland for $1.

Preakness Stakes, Pimlico Race Course, Maryland, Stronach Group
The Preakness Stakes, above, is the second biggest horse racing event in the US and culturally important to Maryland, which hopes to consolidate all racing at a revamped Pimlico Race Course. (Image: Sporting News)

On Wednesday, the Maryland Board of Public Works voted to approve the plan, which will involve a complete rebuild of the track.

The state will run the track as a nonprofit while paying Stronach millions for the right to use the Preakness Stakes name and to run the famous race.

Consolidating Racing

Last week, Maryland’s Democratic Governor Wes Moore signed a bill approving $400 million in state bonds to pay for the renovations.

The Preakness will still run at Pimlico this coming Saturday (May 18) and next year, but it will move to Laurel Park in 2026 while the track is rebuilt. It will return to the new-look Pimlico – it is hoped – in 2027.

Laurel Park, which is also owned by the Stronach Group, will be permanently closed after 110 years of racing once the renovations to Pimlico are complete, per the agreement.

Supporters of the plan believe it will consolidate and rejuvenate racing in the state while protecting the Preakness Stakes and allowing it to remain at its spiritual home.

The Preakness is culturally important to Marylanders. First run in 1873 – beating the Kentucky Derby by two years – it is second only to the Derby for attendance. Maryland law prohibits the Preakness from leaving the state.

“With this agreement, we are making Pimlico the year-round home of thoroughbred racing in the state of Maryland,” Gov. Moore said Wednesday. “By consolidating thoroughbred racing at one track, Pimlico will become a reliable hub of economic activity, rather than only being in the spotlight for a few days of the year.”

New-Look Pimlico

The rebuild will create a smaller 5,000-seat grandstand, which will double as an event space and be open to the local community all year round, according to local NBC affiliate WBAL-TV. There will be a new sportsbook, a hotel with views of the track, and a 2,000-space parking garage.

The track itself will be rotated 30 degrees to free up more space for these new facilities. The plan is that the revamped track will be able to host open-air festivals and other events.

Any operating losses will be covered by a fund derived from lottery proceeds. Meanwhile, 10% of track profits will go to local Park Heights community development projects.

“This truly is an historic moment,” said Alan Foreman, president and CEO of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, told WBAL-TV. “[With] the not-for-profit model, we are consolidating, reducing expenses, reimagining the future.”