The infield at Pimlico on Preakness day

The infield at Pimlico on Preakness day

Anne M. Eberhardt

Preakness at Pimlico Gets Bit of a Push

MJC official May 21 said company would prefer race stays at Old Hilltop.

A Maryland Jockey Club official May 21 said the company would prefer to keep the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course, and much could depend upon a study that will be conducted on behalf of the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Officials with The Stronach Group, which owns the MJC, last year indicated a desire to upgrade Laurel Park, located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., so it could accommodate the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown. The suggestion raised eyebrows in Maryland because of the history at Pimlico, as well as the track's importance to Baltimore.

During a brief meeting with the media at Pimlico Preakness day, MJC president and general manager Sal Sinatra indicated much work must be done before any decisions are made regarding Pimlico and the Preakness, and that he and Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of racing for The Stronach Group, may have jumped the gun last year.

"We were trying to straighten a sinking ship," Sinatra said. "Once you come here and live (through the Preakness experience), you know how it is here. We would prefer to keep it here. We're here today, and people are having a blast out there (despite the weather)."

Sinatra noted The Stronach Group founder and chairman Frank Stronach and his daughter, Belinda, president of the organization, had an upscale hospitality tent in the infield for the first time this year.

"They're starting to see what (the Preakness at Pimlico) is like," Sinatra said.

Sinatra noted all the infield corporate infield tent space was sold out this year.

Laurel, meanwhile, continues to undergo a series of renovations, given the fact it offers most of the live racing dates in Maryland. The Stronach Group has reached out to Breeders' Cup about the possibility of eventually hosting the World Championships at Laurel.

Sinatra also said that if Pimlico is rebuilt or totally renovated, the Preakness most likely would need a temporary home, and that would be Laurel. The stadium authority study is expected to take no less than a year and a half.