Anne M. Eberhardt

State, City Seek to Protect Preakness

The state of Maryland and city of Baltimore want to preserve the Preakness.

Mounting a defense for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course, the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore went to court March 27 to keep the second leg of the Triple Crown in the state because of uncertainties raised by the bankruptcy of Pimlico owner Magna Entertainment Corp.

The state and the city filed in United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware in response to motions filed by MEC earlier in March. The troubled company asked a bankruptcy judge to pre-approve a timeline and procedures for the bankruptcy.

MEC has indicated it plans to sell Pimlico and Laurel Park.

“The Preakness Stakes is not only one of Maryland’s most treasured traditions, but an economic engine for the state, employing thousands of people and creating millions in economic activity each year,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement.

More than 112,000 people attended the race last year, and the state estimated the 2007 race and related events had an economic impact of about $24 million.

Under current law, the state maintains a statutory right of first refusal with respect to the Preakness. But officials are concerned the Chapter 11 proceedings could threaten that right.