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Attorneys for owners of Pimlico demand Baltimore drops its lawsuit to take ownership of Preakness

Posted at 8:28 PM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 09:39:55-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Days after the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore sued to prevent the relocation of the Preakness Stakes, the Stronach Group is demanding that the lawsuit be dropped.

On Wednesday, attorneys for The Stronach Group sent a letter to Baltimore City Solicitor, Andre Davis, alleging that the lawsuit is "devoid" of a legal basis on the grounds that only the State of Maryland "has exclusive authority over all aspects of racing, including as to eminent domain actions, which entirely preempts the condemnation counts in the City Action."

As part of their lawsuit, the City asked a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge to grant ownership of Pimlico Race Course and Preakness to the city through condemnation. The city also petitioned the court to block the Maryland Economic Development Corporation from issuing any bonds to the Stronach Group which could help fund improvements to Laurel Park, one of the group's other properties for which they plan to have host Preakness in the future.

RELATED: City of Baltimore sues owners of Pimlico and the Preakness

In their letter, attorneys for The Stronach Group dispute the City's argument by citing a state law which reads "A county, municipal corporation, or other political subdivision of the State may not make or enforce a local law, ordinance, or regulation about racing."

The City of Baltimore argues that Maryland law prohibits the Stronach Group from relocating the Preakness from Pimlico to another venue unless their is an imminent disaster or emergency.

The Stronach Group's attorneys concluded their letter by respectfully demanding "That the City Action be immediately withdrawn. The failure to do so may result in [the Stronach Group] seeking all available sanctions including costs, expenses, attorney's fees, punitive damages and any other relief a court may grant."

When reached by WMAR-2 News for his response to the letter, Davis said "The City will respond when and as it is appropriate."

On Tuesday, Baltimore Delegate Nick Mosby called on Anne Arundel County lawmakers to withdraw their bills that proposed millions of dollars in bonds to fund repairs at Laurel Park and the nearby Bowie Training Center, until reports of housing concerns for track workers were addressed.

During this year's General Assembly, Baltimore's Delegation introduced House Bill 1190 and Senate Bill 800, which would create a work group tasked with developing a financial outline for retaining Preakness and rebuilding Pimlico Race Course.

READ MORE: Pugh pleads with citizens to get behind effort to save Preakness

With the 2019 legislative session coming to an end on April 8, the fate of each bill is up in the air. The Stronach Group however has said in the past that they expect to keep Preakness in Baltimore through at least 2020. This year's Preakness is scheduled for May 18.