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City solicitor on lawsuit against Pimlico owners: the Preakness 'needs to be in Baltimore'

The “immediate goal” of Baltimore’s lawsuit against the owners of Pimlico Race Course is to force them to negotiations over keeping the Preakness in the city, solicitor Andre Davis said Wednesday.

Davis said “a resolution would be far preferable to full bore litigation” that seeks to block the Stronach Group from moving the race or using state bonds to pay for upgrades to Laurel Park.

“The suit demonstrations that the mayor and City Council are serious about the importance of the Preakness to Pimlico, to the city,” Davis said. “We’re going all the way to the extent that we need to, to bring them to the table, to have reasonable adult conversations about what’s best for the city, what’s best for their interests and to keep the Preakness here in Baltimore as the wonderful event that it always is.”

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court, also asks the court to give the city ownership of the racetrack and the Preakness through condemnation.

In response to the lawsuit, the Stronach Group has said, “These actions are premature and unfounded.”

Davis said a 1987 state law is clear that the Preakness “needs to be in Baltimore,” unless there is a disaster or emergency. Through condemnation, he said, “We’ll have an assurance that the Preakness will always be in Baltimore City, which is what we’re after. It was born here. It was raised here. It was nurtured here, grown here.

“There is no Triple Crown without the Preakness and there is no Preakness without the Preakness in Baltimore City.”

The Stronach Group has said the plan is to keep the Preakness at Pimlico through 2020. This year’s race is set for May 18.

ywenger@baltsun.com

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