BALTIMORE (WBFF) — In a bid to end the perennial questions about the future location of the Preakness Stakes, the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority is recommending massive improvements to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and the end of racing at Laurel Park.
The plan, called Pimlico Plus, would see the race track rebuilt "to serve as the hub of the Maryland racing industry and as a source of year-round economic activity that includes a hotel, event space, development parcels and parking that can be shared with the neighboring community," according to the report.
Pimlico is the second-oldest horse race track in the United States, according to its website, opening its doors in 1870. Preakness was introduced three years later. The facilities at the race track have not kept up with the times. Conditions at Pimlico have led to concerns for years that the second jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown would be moved away from the track it has been using since 1873.
Greg Cross, chairman of the authority, said the intent is to create a long-term home for the Preakness. The Pimlico Plus plan would see the construction of a new track, clubhouse, and stables for about 700 horses, according to the report. Event space and a hotel would be built by a private partner. The plan would also include the creation of a training location with a capacity of 650 horses.
As part of the plan, the state of Maryland would own Pimlico, similar to the situations in California and New York. 1/ST/The Stronach Group would transfer ownership on January 1, 2025, according to the report. The racing authority would run the Preakenss Stakes through a licensing agreement with 1/ST/The Stronach Group.
Due to the plans for the extensive work at Pimlico, the Preakness Stakes would be moved temporarily to Laurel Race Track in 2025 and 2026. After its use as a "transition facility," racing at Laurel Park would end and the site would be redeveloped, according to the report.
The plan still needs legislative approval, which the authority is pushing for during the legislative session starting next week.
Preakness isn't the only race seeing a temporary move. The third leg of the triple crown - the Belmont Stakes - will be moving to the race course in Saratoga Springs, New York, because of construction at Belmont Park in Long Island.