BALTIMORE – The Preakness at Laurel? On a Sunday?
According to the new President and CEO of Pimlico, Sal Sinatra that’s a possibility.
The Stronach Group, which owns both Pimlico and Laurel, wants to have a first class facility in Maryland, much like Gulfstream Park in Florida and Santa Anita in California, which they also run.
Sinatra says Frank Stronach is focused on doing something in Maryland, and quickly.
“Frank wants to do something in Maryland, something grand,” Sinatra said.
It’s easier to renovate Laurel which has 300 acres, than Pimlico, which has half that number. Pimlico, which has hosted the Preakness every year since 1909, could be razed.
“Nostalgia to me as a racing guy is that the Preakness stays here. If I can’t do that, and we need to fix something, that may change,” Sinatra said.
“This building is old. You can’t just add suites and stuff to it. It’s almost a rebuild here, but Laurel’s a pretty healthy building. You can renovate,” Sinatra said. “Right now Laurel’s in the lead if there was only going to be one [track]. My goal is to try and not let that happen.”
A decision on the future of the Preakness could come by the end of the year, perhaps even sooner, and in 2016, the race, which has been held on the third Saturday of May, could move to Sunday.
“I think by the end of the year, I’ll know whether it’s going to be Laurel or not, and if it is Laurel, it probably would be on a Sunday,” Sinatra said.
Moving the Preakness could be tough politically. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he wants to keep the race in Baltimore.
“I don’t think this is the last Preakness here, even if we did decide that,” Sinatra said.
Sinatra said that the Preakness could be as big an event at Laurel, which is 30 miles away, as it is at Pimlico. He envisions rebuilding a commuter rail station that’s outside the track’s entrance.
Even if the Preakness left Pimlico, it would still have a Baltimore presence.
“I think the core people would still stay in Baltimore. That’s where the restaurants and nightlife and the hotels are,” Sinatra said.