At Preakness, pols discuss Maryland racing’s future

From The Baltimore Banner

As politicians mingled and wooed donors and business executives at the 148th Preakness Stakes on Saturday, they once again considered how to keep the thoroughbred horse racing industry in the state alive.

“I want this to be the last Preakness where there is uncertainty about what the future of Pimlico and horse racing in Maryland is,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat.

Seemingly every few years, the future of Maryland’s racing industry is thrown up in the air. As recently as four years ago, the corporate owners of Pimlico Race Course were talking about shutting it down and moving year-round racing and the Preakness Stakes to Laurel Park. At the 2019 Preakness, politicians fretted about whether that would come to pass.

The next year, a solution was reached to use state financing to renovate both tracks. But that, too, fell apart — the result of a combination of factors, including inflation, interest rates and expensive tax liabilities for the Stronach Group that owns the track.

Ferguson turned to the “Peanuts” cartoon to explain the frustration of the on-again, off-again plans for reviving horse racing.


“It’s like Lucy and the football, where every time we think we’ve come to a solution, the football gets pulled and everyone’s left guessing where we’re going to be,” he said.

But, as negotiations progress, one thing is becoming clear: The focus has returned to Pimlico as the likely center of thoroughbred racing in Maryland. It’s not clear yet, though, what exactly that would look like, how renovations would be funded and what would happen to Laurel Park.

Read more at The Baltimore Banner. The Baltimore Banner is an editorial partner with The Racing Biz