The grandstand at Pimlico Race Course

The grandstand at Pimlico Race Course

Rick Samuels

General Assembly Approves Renovation of Pimlico, Laurel

Maryland General Assembly passed the Racing and Community Development Act March 18.

The Racing and Community Development Act, a historic capital plan to preserve and enhance the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course and to enhance year-round racing at Laurel Park, passed the Maryland General Assembly March 18 and is awaiting approval of Gov. Larry Hogan.

"I would like to thank Maryland's policy makers for the passage of the legislation that paves the way for an enhanced Preakness in Baltimore, the revitalization of year-round racing at Laurel Park, and reinvestment in the many communities of interest near and related to the racing industry," said Belinda Stronach, the chairman and president of The Stronach Group. "Their tireless efforts, particularly as they work to prioritize the health and well-being of Maryland's citizens during these difficult times, is highly commendable."

After many years of controversy surrounding how to fund and modernize Maryland's aging racing facilities, the Racing and Community Development Act provides a strategy.

"The passage of the Racing and Community Development Act of 2020 is a defining moment for the Thoroughbred horse racing industry in this state," said Alan M. Rifkin, counsel to the Maryland Jockey Club and the Preakness Stakes and the managing partner of Rifkin Weiner Livingston law firm.

The Stronach Group, which owns the racetrack, and the Maryland Thoroughbred industry reached an agreement in principle that was submitted to state lawmakers in Annapolis for review and consideration in October after TSG closed the Northern Grandstand ahead of last year's Preakness because of safety concerns about the aging facility.

Pimlico will be redeveloped and renovated as "a world-class racing and community-purpose venue befitting the Preakness Stakes," according to a release made by Rifkin Weiner Livingston.

When not conducting the Preakness Stakes, the clubhouse and facilities will be used for community activities, recreational purposes, civic events, and other public purposes. Laurel Park will be redeveloped as "one of the finest racing and training facility in the country," according to the release, and include an equine diagnostic center, new surfaces, stables and barns, and other facilities.