Baltimore County’s delegates are lining up to support Baltimore City’s lawmakers in their efforts to prevent the owners of Pimlico Race Course from moving the Preakness Stakes and abandoning the track.
The county delegates are working on a letter in support of an effort by Baltimore Sen. Bill Ferguson to require that the track’s owner, Stronach Group, to get state approval of a redevelopment plan and conduct a study of effects on the neighborhood before issuing bonds that would finance a major redevelopment at the company’s Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County.
The letter, to be sent out later this week, will detail how both the city and the county benefit from having the Preakness Stakes as well as other horse races at Pimlico, said Del. Pat Young, chairman of the Baltimore County delegation.
The letter will discuss “the impact that losing the Preakness would have on Baltimore County as well,” Young said during a meeting of the county’s delegates Tuesday.
Ferguson is trying to get that requirement added to a bill that would allow the Stronach Group to accelerate its renovations at Laurel Park by issuing bonds using part of the state’s proceeds from slot machines that are set aside for racetrack improvements.
Stronach Group officials have requested the bill as a way to fulfill its vision for a “super track” at Laurel that could attract a broader clientele and perhaps a big-name race such as the Breeder’s Cup. Stronach officials have made clear that they are not interested in investing large amounts of money at Pimlico, the aging track in northwest Baltimore that hosts the Preakness Stakes, the second race in horse racing’s Triple Crown.
Sen. Nancy King, chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, told The Baltimore Sun on Monday that she’s hoping to strike a deal that satisfies supporters of both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. She said she wants to see Stronach’s plans for Pimlico’s future before moving forward on the bill.
Young said he worries that Pimlico could befall the same fate as Stronach’s Bowie Training Center, which was closed in 2015 and has been neglected.
Young is asking Baltimore County delegates to decide by Thursday whether to sign onto the letter.
“There isn’t a lot of talk generally about Baltimore County and Baltimore City folks in this together, but we all know the impacts that losing the Preakness would have on both the county and the city,” Young said.