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Moving Preakness is good for Maryland racing

Horses race around the first turn of the 125th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore. A new Maryland Stadium Authority study calls for demolishing the race course and rebuilding - at a cost of $424 million.

The Baltimore Sun has previously published my arguments for closing Pimlico (“Move Preakness to Laurel, close Pimlico,” May 21, 2018) and moving the Preakness to Laurel Park. Baltimore Development Corp. head Wiiliam Cole IV’s comments comparing moving the Preakness to Laurel Park to the Baltimore Colts moving to Indianapolis in “the dead of the night” is not an apt analogy (“Like ‘stealing the Colts’: Baltimore leaders gird for battle to keep Preakness in the city,” Feb. 23).

The distance from downtown Baltimore to Laurel Park is about 20 miles. The distance from downtown Baltimore to Pimlico Racetrack is just over 9 miles. The distance from Baltimore to Indianapolis is 578 miles. The closing of Pimlico will not affect Maryland racing fans’ ability to go to the racetrack. The attacks on The Stronach Group are misguided. The Stronach Group is a national leader and innovator of operating racetracks.

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Under the leadership of Tim Ritvo and Sal Sinatra, the fans’ experience at Laurel Park has been significantly upgraded. The various elements (breeders, track owners, trainers and jockeys) of the Maryland racing industry are working well together. Horse racing faces fierce competition for the gambling dollar. Deference should be given to The Stronach Group’s vision to consolidate racing at Laurel Park. The potential of bringing a Breeders Cup to Laurel Park will enhance the prestige of Maryland racing.

Baltimore hotels and restaurants will still host Preakness fans even when the race is held at Laurel Park. Baltimore can still serve as the host for the Preakness at Laurel Park. Civic leaders are always touting the virtues of regionalism. Strengthening Maryland’s racing product at Laurel Park will make effective regionalism a reality.

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Kevin O'Keeffe, Baltimore


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