MJC Moves Ahead With Capital Improvements

Construction of new stalls at Laurel Park will begin this fall.

The Maryland Jockey Club is moving forward with some capital improvement projects it outlined to the Maryland Racing Commission earlier this year.

Workers are expected to break ground Nov. 1 on construction of 150 stalls at Laurel Park, with another 150 scheduled to be completed in June 2014. The MJC hopes to have construction of 216 stalls and a dormitory at Pimlico Race Course done by the end of 2014.

The additional stalls at the two racetracks will replace those at the Bowie Training Center, which eventually will be shuttered as part of a 10-year multi-party agreement for Maryland Thoroughbred racing.

MJC president Tom Chuckas said the organization is "working on plans" for the upgrade of facilities at Laurel and Pimlico. There are no specifics or a timetable for completion of those projects, which could necessitate obtaining environmental approvals; earlier this year the MJC said it hopes to add amenities to Pimlico, which hosts the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) each year.

Chuckas said the MJC will apply for 100 days of racing in 2014, down from more than 140 this year. Under the agreement, however, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has the option to "buy" more dates at either Laurel or Pimlico.

"We're looking at all the numbers," Chuckas said. "We have a good working relationship (with the horsemen) now after years of discord."

After its fall meet concludes Dec. 31, Laurel traditionally has opened Jan. 1 for its winter/spring meet.