A new future as Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness, is turned over to Maryland state hands

20 May 2024- The Board of Public Works today approved an agreement to transfer ownership of Pimlico Race Course from The Stronach Group to the State of Maryland. The historic agreement guarantees the home of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, establishes Pimlico as the year-round home of thoroughbred racing in Maryland, and creates a year-round hub of economic activity in Baltimore’s Park Heights community. 

“When it comes to projects with generational impact, our administration has made it clear that we aren’t just focused on closing a deal – we’re focused on driving economic development in all of our communities,” said Gov. Moore. “Just days before the 149th running of the Preakness Stakes, we have reached an agreement that will keep horse racing at Pimlico for generations and will deliver economic prosperity for the City of Baltimore. Thank you to the General Assembly, the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority, The Stronach Group, 1/ST and the Maryland Jockey Club for their partnership in getting this agreement to the finish line.”

Terms under the master agreement include the transfer of ownership of Pimlico from the Stronach Group to the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority for one dollar as of July 1. The state will lease Laurel Park racetrack for three years as of January 1, 2025 at a cost of one dollar per year, where races will be held while construction is underway at Pimlico— though the 150th Preakness is expected to be held at Pimlico next year. 

After construction is complete, The Stronach Group will retain ownership of Laurel Park and can sell or redevelop the property for non-racing use. The agreement also includes the transfer of rights to the Preakness Stakes to the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority through a long-term licensing agreement with The Stronach Group following Preakness 151 in 2026.  

“With the approval and signing of these agreements, we will put Maryland horse racing on a solid foot for the future,” said Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority Chair Greg Cross.

The agreement also ensures full renovation of Pimlico facilities, including the racetrack and hotel and event space construction; a $10 million investment through the Department of Housing and Community Development to promote housing, job training, workforce development and other local priorities within the Park Heights community; development of a new off-site training facility; and establishment of a non-profit to operate racing in Maryland in line with national best practice. 

“Thanks to the support of Governor Moore and to the partnership of the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority under the leadership of Greg Cross, a sustainable and bright new future for the Thoroughbred racing industry in Maryland has been secured,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman, CEO, and President of The Stronach Group. “This agreement is a win for our industry and importantly a win for the community, notably Park Heights.”

Last week, Governor Moore signed the Horse Racing-Racing Facility Ownerships and Construction Racing Operations bill, which provides funding and authorization for the historic deal. The move supports Maryland’s critical equine industry, which accounts for 25% of the state’s agricultural base, roughly 28,000 jobs, and $3 billion in total economic impact. 

The first Preakness Stakes were held at Pimlico in 1873. This Saturday’s race was the 149th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.