Pimlico Racetrack has long been the site of the Preakness Stakes, but it is also the target of scrutiny from many angles. The overlaying problem has been the conditions of the facility, which desperately require an upgrade. The Maryland Racing Commission is ensuring that this happens sooner rather than later.
Chairman John McDaniel will oversee a a two phase plan that will allow developers and authorities to properly determine what needs to be done. “In my judgment, this is probably one of the most important items we’ll be engaged with going forward,” McDaniel said. In a unanimous vote on April 19th, the Maryland Racing Commission handed full power in this matter over to McDaniel.
After the assessment is complete, the commission will move towards discussing the best course of action to re-develop and update Pimlico Racecourse. This process is costing $280,000 and is drawing financial support from the Maryland Racing Commission, Maryland Stadium Authority and the Maryland Jockey Club. It’s obvious that the state’s governing bodies are intent on maintaining Pimlico’s status as one of the premier racetracks in the country.
The stadium authority remains the most important component of all this. They have been responsible for the upkeep and prosperity of all the major stadiums in the state, including the M&T Bank Stadium (NFL’s Baltimore Ravens) and Camden Yards (MLB’s Baltimore Orioles). The presence of the stadium authority within this process bodes well for Pimlico Racetrack and its future.
Fears have recently persisted that the Maryland Racing Commission was looking to transplant the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico to another destination, namely Laurel Park, which is also undergoing a massive renovation. Instead, the intention seems to be much broader and less petty. Using the remainder of the 2016 season (and a portion of 2017) to update Pimlico seems like the priority, as it will keep the Preakness where it belongs.
Instead, the Laurel Park upgrades look as though they’re part of a bid to acquire the Breeders’ Cup World Championships somewhere down the line. It’s a lofty goal for the Maryland Racing Commission, especially given that the world championships run in early November.
Still, all of these moves prove that the Maryland Racing Commission is intent on improving the stature of the state within the sport of thoroughbred racing.