Pimlico survives another Preakness, but for how much longer?
BALTIMORE (AP) — A record-setting crowd on Friday, followed by a huge throng for the Preakness, will enable the owners of aging Pimlico Race Course to break even this year.
That, however, won’t blunt their effort to move the Preakness to nearby Laurel Park.
“It’s going to come to a head at some point later this year,” Sal Sinatra, president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, said Saturday. “We’ll see where it shakes out.”
The Maryland Stadium Authority is in the midst of a study to determine how much money it will take to sufficiently renovate 147-year-old Pimlico.
If the money isn’t there, The Stronach Group wants to hold the Preakness at newer, shinier Laurel Park. The move, however, will not be made hastily.
“I keep telling everybody, we’re not the Baltimore Colts. We’re not just bolting and going to Laurel,” Sinatra said. “But it’s an economic decision that everybody is going to have to make.”
Pimlico is usually alarmingly quiet on race days — except for the third weekend in May. A record crowd of 47,956 attended Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day, and the place was packed for Saturday’s Preakness.
“This weekend will make for the Stronach Group probably around eight, nine million dollars. That sustains the rest of the year, basically,” Sinatra said. “But to get where we’d like to be and have the nice facility and actually make close to what Churchill (Downs) is making, that would make everyone more whole.”
Sinatra said earlier in the week that he would be on “pins and needles” hoping that Pimlico survives another weekend. Late Saturday afternoon, all appeared well.
“The glue, the bubble gum, the duct tape, seems to be working,” Sinatra said.