UPDATED: 1ST Racing: Pimlico’s the plan

From The Baltimore Banner

The future of Maryland racing has been a subject of much angst in the state for quite some time. There are two tracks, both owned by the Stronach Group, neither in great shape. But nothing seems to get done.

Aidan Butler, chief executive of 1/ST, the racing arm of Stronach, put his cards on the table and declared who he thinks should be the winner.

Pimlico is the future and Laurel is the past.

“The opportunity, I believe, is to concentrate on Pimlico as the racetrack and maybe use Laurel for training or use another location for training,” Butler said in an exclusive interview with The Baltimore Banner. “But if the idea is to build two new racetracks, that doesn’t make a lot of logical sense. Personally, if I were to rebuild one, I’d rather rebuild Pimlico.”

This is a considerable swerve from a few years ago when Tim Ritvo, then the top racing executive at Stronach, declared that Laurel would supplant Pimlico as Maryland’s signature track. He even wanted to move the Preakness to Laurel and talked about hosting the Breeders’ Cup.

Ritvo left the company nearly a year after a huge spike in horse deaths at Santa Anita, which is also a Stronach property.


“From my perspective, it probably never should have been looked at as a home for the Preakness,” Butler said. “And I don’t think it should ever be. Pimlico is Pimlico. The old gal has some troubles, but this is the thing we really need to concentrate on.”

The sad shape of the Pimlico facility has been well chronicled the past few years from things such as a condemned area of the grandstand to water issues at the facility.

Read more at The Baltimore Banner. The Baltimore Banner is an editorial partner with The Racing Biz. Subsequent to our initial publication of this excerpt, The Banner updated it; this version reflects the updated text.