DeFrancis Warns Pimlico Could Close Without Slots

By Associated Press
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.

Joe DeFrancis, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico Race Course, spoke Monday night during a meeting with area residents about plans to renovate the track.

"If slots come to Maryland and not Pimlico, I can assure you we won't be able to do any of this -- nothing," DeFrancis said. "And we'll be lucky to stay open."

Home owners in nearby Mount Washington voted last week to oppose slots at Pimlico.

De Francis said last month he intends to ask the City Council to change land-use planning rules so he can overhaul the track, changes that could lead to slots at the track. A bill also has been introduced in the City Council to allow the racetrack to build a 700-room hotel, theaters, a banquet hall and more.

Gov. Robert Ehrlich wants to authorize slot machines at racetracks, and the state Senate approved his slots bill during the 2003 General Assembly session. The governor's bill was killed.