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State's purchase of Pimlico stalling in the gate

Posted at 6:23 PM, Apr 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-04 18:23:43-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bill to allow the purchase of Pimlico race course and $400 million in investment sits in the Senate, with an uncertain future.

"We have to have some real negotiations and conversations about whether or not the bill as it's come across, is in the best interest of the industry and the community surrounding the tracks and the communities that would be losing the tracks," said Senate President Bill Ferguson.

The legislation approves a purchase of the racing facility for just $1.

The state would set up a nonprofit to run the course.

The Preakness name would be licensed to Maryland at a cost of $2 million and a percentage of the Black Eyed Susan and Preakness betting handle each year.

The current plan is to also focus all the effort on revitalizing Pimlico, leaving other courses in question.

"There's concern that even in the construction of a new track that the benefits are not as tangible for the neighborhoods," said Ferguson.

Most Republicans have been against the bill.

All the no votes on the House side were from Republicans.

Senate minority leader Steven Hershey told us, "Laurel Park should be the focus of the horse racing industry in Maryland."

We reached out to both Governor Wes Moore's team and the Maryland thoroughbred racetrack operating authority.

Neither responded to our request for comment.

For the bill to pass, a rules committee has to be convened in the Senate.

So far, a meeting hasn't been set.