Baltimore Mayor Withdraws Lawsuit Against Pimlico’s Owner Over Possible Preakness Move To Laurel Park

by | 06.13.2019 | 2:12pm
A portion of Pimlico's grandstand was closed to the public this year out of concerns for safety

Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young announced on Wednesday that the city has dropped a lawsuit against the owner and operator of Pimlico racetrack, host of the Preakness Stakes.

In March, then-Mayor Catherine Pugh sued The Stronach Group and its Maryland racing division, the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns and operates both Pimlico and Laurel Park. The suit, filed on behalf of the city, was an attempt to keep the Preakness from moving to Laurel Park and sought ownership of Pimlico through condemnation.

Pugh resigned in May in the midst of a corruption scandal involving sales of children's books she wrote being purchased by companies bidding for city service contracts.

Young and Belinda Stronach, chairman of The Stronach Group, had what the new mayor called a “production discussion” concerning Pimlico.

“I am pleased that we have reached this withdrawal agreement and standstill with the Maryland Jockey Club and The Stronach Group to give the parties an opportunity to discuss Pimlico and racing in Maryland,” Young said in a statement. “The city is committed to keeping the Preakness in Baltimore and I look forward to working with the Maryland Jockey Club and The Stronach Group on good faith negotiations toward a positive outcome for the Park Heights community and the city of Baltimore.”

Said Stronach: “We appreciate the withdrawal of the lawsuit and look forward to working with Mayor Young and his representatives, along with the state and other stakeholders.”

Because of the deteriorating condition of Pimlico, Maryland Jockey Club officials have stated their intention to move the Preakness to Laurel Park as early as 2021 unless government officials develop a funding plan to rebuild the aging track. A Maryland Stadium Authority study recommended Old Hilltop be torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $424 million but offered no funding solutions.

At this year's Preakness, a large portion of the grandstand was closed to the public because of safety concerns and a water main break led to many bathrooms in the building not functioning properly.

Meanwhile, extensive renovations are ongoing at Laurel Park, which hopes to bid for hosting duties at a future Breeders' Cup. Laurel Park is located midway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

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