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Baltimore state senators ask budget committee to kill bill to fund horse racing 'super track' at Laurel Park

Fearing the loss of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore’s state Senate delegation is asking the Budget and Taxation Committee to kill a bill that would provide funding for a “super track” at Laurel Park.

In a letter sent Friday to Budget and Taxation Committee chairwoman Sen. Nancy King, Baltimore’s senators asked her to shelve a bill that would authorize the Maryland Economic Development Corp. to issue $120 million in bonds to finance $80 million in improvements to Laurel, plus $40 million for a training center at the former Bowie Race Track.

If not, the senators urged King, a Montgomery County Democrat, to adopt an amendment offered by Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, that would require a planned-unit development be presented to the Board of Public Works for the Pimlico site before any bonds for Laurel would be issued.

“As you are aware, the Preakness Stakes has been run in Baltimore since 1873, two years before the Kentucky Derby,” the letter, signed by all six of the city’s senators, states. “The Preakness is a creation of Baltimore, thrives in Baltimore, and is embedded in the fabric and heart of our City.”

King said Monday night that she was trying to strike a deal that would make supporters of both Pimlico and Laurel happy. King said she needed to see written plans from The Stronach Group, which owns the track, that would provide a strong future for Pimlico before she would move the bill forward.

“We have several people working on a plan that everybody will be happy with,” King said. “We’re not there yet and that’s why we haven’t voted it out of committee yet. I need to see something from Stronach that says, ‘We’re not going to leave Pimlico with a big fence around it as an eyesore.’ We need to see their plan.”

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