BALTIMORE (AP) _ Less than a week before the running of the Preakness, the owners of Pimlico Race Course have filed a lawsuit against the track's insurance company, trying to force it to pay for damage from an electrical fire and power outage on the day of the race two years ago.

The fire cast a pall over the running of the Preakness in 1998.

The suit, by Maryland Jockey Club of Baltimore City Inc. and Pimlico Racing Association Inc. against American Casualty Co. of Reading, Pa., was filed Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court and seeks damages ``in excess of $467,763.89.''

Representatives of the insurance company were not immediately available for comment.

Hours before Real Quiet won the Preakness in 1998, a transformer serving Pimlico's grandstand blew, causing an outage that crippled the air-conditioning system, closed pari-mutuel windows and darkened stairwells.

Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Pimlico, and Pimlico Racing Association, which owns Maryland Jockey Club, applied for reimbursement for losses, but American Casualty refused to pay, the suit says.

In a letter in August, the insurance company said it would not pay the claim because Pimlico's policy covers loss of damage by fire, and not electrical current, the suit says.

The suit contends that a fire in an electrical transformer in the track's parking lot led to the outage.

At a hearing in March before the city Planning Commission, Pimlico representatives outlined a five-year, multimillion-dollar improvement plan for the track, which was built in 1870 and received its only major refurbishing in 1954. They said at the time that they would spend $1 million to remedy fire-code violations found by city inspectors.