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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Whether the second jewel of the Triple Crown remains at Pimlico isn’t up to The Stronach Group or even the City of Baltimore. It’s up to the legislators, many of whom probably read the recent Washington Post op-ed calling for the end to Thoroughbred racing.

Anywhere and everywhere.

All know that the future over Maryland racing is at Laurel Park, a bucolic setting for the sport and, if negotiations go forward, the synthetic track TSG wants to install can serve a dual purpose; training and/or winter racing. More stalls would be part of the package.

Horseplayers in big cities throughout the country that have not gone racing in Maryland may not realize it but the Free State is horse country, one with a rich racing history–a plethora of horse farms a pleasant drive away from the city line.

Of course, along with the expansion of Laurel goes replacing Old Hilltop with a state-of-the-art destination venue and racetrack. Pimlico Race Course has shown its age for a while, time taking its toll. But none of us would look great at age 149.

City Hall and TSG representatives have had good talks but the future of Pimlico may not only belong to the aforementioned legislators but to casino interests who likely are loathe to extend current legislation that sends a portion of casino proceeds to the tracks.

With training facilities becoming more available with Laurel Park expansion, TSG can afford to be generous, showing their appreciation for financial support from the state and city by bequeathing the land upon which Bowie, racetrack-turned-training-center to the city.

Obviously, there are millions of ways for this proposal to go sideways but it does a racing soul good to dream about what a new Pimlico would look like, a multi-purpose facility that keeps the building alive all year long.

Keeping the Preakness at Pimlico–given the right scenario–would a win for the sport, the City of Baltimore and the people from the neighborhood in which the track lives. Hi-Ho Pimlico, indeed.

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5 Responses

  1. It’s an attractive plan, I think.
    Hard to imagine the sport of horseracing being able to generate the revenue in the future to support it however.
    Maryland might be the place though, more so I believe than New York, whose product outside of Saratoga has slipped significantly and is existing on subsidies from the state.
    A topic for another day.

  2. To your point, DMich, it’s hard to find a successful venue these days that isn’t supported by casino or other forms of supplementary revenue; Kentucky’s continued growth being a glaring example. Will racing ever stand completely on its own again with any degree of success? Isn’t the gambling space in general just too competitive now for that to happen?

  3. The Big M was a ghost town and then came sports wagering. Was there when opened in 1977 and it was crowded. That was 42 years ago. The week John Belushi passed there was a horse entered named Animal House. Bet out on this one who won for me and others at 5-2 or thereabouts. I guess a lot of other folks thought the same way. Sometimes you just have to think this way…

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