The expansive clubhouse/grandstand at Laurel Park will continue to be the focus of reconstruction in 2016

The expansive clubhouse/grandstand at Laurel Park will continue to be the focus of reconstruction in 2016

Jim McCue / Maryland Jockey Club

MJC Stays in Growth Mode for 2016

Reconstruction continues at Laurel Park

After an eventful year that brought major capital investment and a 19.5% increase in pari-mutuel handle on live racing, the Maryland Jockey Club will continue in growth mode in 2016.

MJC president and general manager Sal Sinatra Jan. 4 said reconstruction of parts of Laurel Park's clubhouse will continue with upgrades to the box and dining area, creation of a sports bar, and a renovated Ruffian Room for groups. He said the MJC hopes to have two to four new off-track betting parlors operating this year; the first, in the Timonium grandstand at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, is set for a late January opening prior to the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic winter sale.

Pimlico Race Course, which hosts the 2016 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), is in line for new televisions and general maintenance work but no major construction, Sinatra said. The Pimlico barn area is open this winter, in part to accommodate some horsemen while live racing at Parx is on hiatus.

Expansion of the barn area remains a priority as the MJC focuses on facilities at Laurel, which will offer almost year-round racing in 2016. The MJC last year floated an idea to eventually move the Preakness to Laurel.