Maryland Governor Signs Pimlico Reconstruction Law


As expected, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed a bill Thursday that calls for rebuilding Pimlico and donating the route to the state.

According to the law, $400 million in state bonds will be used to demolish and rebuild the dilapidated grandstand. While Pimlico is rebuilt, racing will move to Laurel. Once the new Pimlico is ready for use, Laurel will be closed to racing.

Due to the eventual closure of Laurel, it will be necessary to open a training center as Pimlico alone cannot accommodate all of Maryland's resident horses. The location of this training center has yet to be determined.

“This is a historic moment for racing in Maryland and it would not have been possible without the support of the Governor, the leadership of the Maryland Legislature and the cooperation of all stakeholders and the work of the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority.” It is a historic moment for racing in Maryland and for the city of Baltimore,” said Alan Foreman, general counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

The Stronach Group, which includes Pimlico and Laurel, will turn the tracks over to a newly formed nonprofit group that will be similar to the structure in New York, where the tracks are operated by the New York Racing Association. The Stronach Group wanted to leave Maryland because it was losing money operating the two tracks.

Foreman outlined the future plans for Pimlico and the timelines that include things like moving the GI Preakness S. to Laurel: “Pimlico will be moved to the state of Maryland on July 1,” he said. “Pimlico will be closed for training sometime before early autumn. The stadium authority has already started work and a design team is in place. They have tendered for the construction company that will carry out the actual construction work. Demolition work at Pimlico should begin early next year, if not by the end of this year. The bonds will be issued sometime in early 2025.

“The location for the training center must be decided by the end of the year. I expect this to happen within the next 90 days as construction of the training center must begin at the same time as construction of Pimlico. Racing will be held at Laurel for the next three years during construction. The non-profit organization is currently being formed and a management team is being hired. It is expected that the old grandstand and barn area will be demolished by the 2025 Preakness, which will be held at Pimlico. Full construction at Pimlico will continue after the 2025 Preakness. The Preakness is expected to be held at the new Pimlico in 2027. The stadium authority made it clear that it expects to complete the project within three years from January 1, 2025. Finally, the nonprofit organization that will run racing in Maryland will be incorporated on January 1, 2025.”

Foreman said: “The Stronach Group will run the 2025 and 2026 Preakness races and it will be similar to the Breeders' Cup arrangement where they go to a track, run the event and then come out again.” Starting in 2027, the Preakness controlled and operated by the new nonprofit organization under the auspices of the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority.”

The 2025 Preakness will take place in Pimlico, although construction has already begun. It will run in Laurel in 2026 before returning to Pimlico in 2027.

“Hosting next year’s Preakness in Pimlico will be a bit of a challenge, but it is the 150th Preakness and the governor and city absolutely want it to be held in Pimlico regardless of what is happening,” Foreman said.

Pimlico opened in 1870 and is the second oldest racetrack in the country after Saratoga. But the facility had become so run down over the years that it was a problem to continue operating as a race track without spending millions on modernizations. In 2019, almost 7,000 grandstand seats were closed, with Stronach Group stressing that the move was for the “safety of all guests and staff”.