FILE - In this May 19, 2018, file photo, Justify, with Mike Smith aboard, wins the 143rd Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico race course in Baltimore. Justify, who won the first two legs, won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9, 2018, to complete horse racing’s Triple Crown. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Report: Track that hosts Preakness should be demolished

BALTIMORE — The nearly 150-year-old Baltimore track that hosts one of America’s premierhorse races should be torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $424 million, according to a report issued Thursday.

The Maryland Stadium Authority, in the second phase of a comprehensive study of Pimlico Race Course, recommends demolishing all existing structures at the historic track that hosts the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing.

The rundown condition of the aging Baltimore track presents challenges threatening the “continued existence and the success of the Preakness Stakes,” according to a summary of the conclusions.

The Maryland agency said that despite the track’s physical condition, there does not appear to be “situational factors” such as the surrounding city neighbourhood of Park Heights and accessibility issues that would “negatively affect Pimlico Race Course’s ability to remain the long-term home of the Preakness Stakes.”

The Stronach Group, a Canada-based development company that owns and operates Pimlico, has looked at a fresher track it owns in Laurel Park — located about 30 miles south of the Baltimore track— as a viable option for the Preakness. Under state law, the race can be moved to another track in Maryland “only as a result of a disaster or emergency.”

In a Thursday statement, Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of The Stronach Group, agreed with the study’s findings and called for collaborative action by state and city authorities during Maryland’s upcoming legislative session in Annapolis.

“A successful and viable future for Maryland Racing requires an industryencompassing and thoughtful capital plan that looksbeyondone weekend of celebration toachieving greatsuccess year-round,” the statement said.

The company has previously suggested it could be open to a public-private partnership.

Sandy Rosenberg, a state Democratic lawmaker whose district includes the Pimlico track, said the study sets forth a blueprint for “an extraordinary community development opportunity on the racetrack site that would also allow us to transform the current Pimlico into a 21st century racing facility.”

He said it’s important to understand what the redevelopment would do for the other 51 weeks of the year when the Preakness isn’t running. He noted the study recommends adding infrastructure around the track including a central plaza, various shops and a hotel.

“It’s putting on the table for public consideration a proposal that would be of great benefit 52 weeks out of the year to northwest Baltimore, the city and the region and to the racing industry, especially during that one week of the Preakness,” Rosenberg said.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said the city strongly endorsed the redevelopment plan recommended by the Maryland Stadium Authority, saying the economic opportunity it would bring could dramatically revitalize an area that’s experienced disinvestment for decades.

A spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he’s always been supportive of keeping Preakness at Pimlico and would review the study in coming days.

Back in its heyday, Pimlico hosted many of the sport’s most memorable races: Seabiscuit’s match race with War Admiral in 1938 Man o’ War’s debut in 1920 with a stunning win over Upset and Secretariat’s last-to-first victory during his Triple Crown run in 1973.

Though work crews have found a way to make the track presentable for the Preakness every year on the third Saturday in May, many racing fans have said the need for a dramatic makeover has been blatantly obvious for many years.

———

Associated Press writer Brian Witte in Annapolis contributed to this report.

Just Posted

WATCH: 2019 Canada Winter Games will leave a lasting legacy, say organizers

It leaves Red Deer with the infrastructure and confidence to host future such events

Moms visit Red Deer’s overdose prevention site

Moms Stop The Harm meet in Red Deer

Average fall, cold winter ahead, The Weather Network predicts

Canadians can expect average temperatures this fall that will give way to… Continue reading

After bankruptcy filing, Purdue Pharma may not be off hook

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its owners expressed sympathy but not responsibility… Continue reading

Energy prices spike after Saudi oil attack, US blaming Iran

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Global energy prices spiked on Monday after… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Central Alberta Historical Society annual general meeting is 6 p.m. at… Continue reading

Opinion: City must aim for zero per cent tax hike

Red Deer city council is discussing the benefits of multi-year budgets, which… Continue reading

Israeli PM puts scare into voters in bid to keep power

Benjamin Netanyahu’s work is almost done. If he wins Tuesday’s election and… Continue reading

Taylor Pendrith wins Canadian player of the year honours on Mackenzie Tour

Taylor Pendrith’s season on the Mackenzie Tour didn’t end the way he… Continue reading

Thousands of fans show up to celebrate Bianca Andreescu’s U.S. Open title

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Some fans showed up to Celebration Square in downtown… Continue reading

10 Canadian albums contend for prestigious Polaris Music Prize

TORONTO — Five Quebecois music acts, a Top 40 singer and well-travelled… Continue reading

Rocker Ric Ocasek, frontman of The Cars, dead at 75

NEW YORK — Ric Ocasek, The Cars frontman whose deadpan vocal delivery… Continue reading

Local Sports Schedule Sept. 16-22

Wednesday Volleyball: Senior High School: Hunting Hills Lighting vs. Lacombe Rams, Lacombe,… Continue reading

Most Read