Tough times and uncertainty mark the passing of one year and the beginning of another in Maryland racing. Joe De Francis, president and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, calls 2003 "the toughest year we've had in the last decade." And the battle for relief in the form of slot machines has taken more unexpected twists and turns.
The first indication a deal might be worked out to keep Pimlico's stable open for the winter emerged Tuesday. Meetings took place between horsemen's leadership and track management in a Baltimore office and between horsemen's leadership and angry Pimlico backstretch workers in the Pimlico track kitchen.
The president of Pimlico warns that the home of the Preakness Stakes could close if slot machines are permitted elsewhere in the state and not at the Baltimore track.
Magna Entertainment Corp. was granted initial approval for a major overhaul of Pimlico that would realign the racetrack and move the grandstand across the infield.
Revitalization of Pimlico Race Course could begin immediately and be completed within 24 months if slots legislation is passed in Maryland, Magna Entertainment Corp. president Jim McAlpine told members of the Maryland General Assembly on Monday.
The decisive victory by Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in the race for Maryland governor brought immediate smiles to the face of Maryland horsemen.
The Maryland Jockey Club reported a combined net income of $1,492,000 for Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park for 2001, according to audited financial statements filed Friday with the state racing commission.
Churchill Downs made a serious attempt in recent weeks to acquire Pimlico and Laurel Park in Maryland. The deal fell apart, however, over issues of control.
The Maryland Jockey Club reported that pari-mutuel handle from all sources totaled $535,813,090 in 2001, compared to $530,833,234 in 2000, despite the fact that there were three less live Thoroughbred days and 14 fewer Standardbred days run during the year. The increase in total handle was just 1 percent.
After a pair of impressive runs against the boys, the hickory tough Xtra Heat should be happy enough to face only members of her own sex Saturday in the $75,000 Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct. The six-furlong sprint is the first stakes race of the New York track's inner track winter season.
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