From left, Belinda Stronach (The Stronach Group), Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Greg Cross (Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority). (Courtesy Office of Governor Wes Moore)

The Maryland Board of Public Works has approved an agreement to transfer ownership of Pimlico Race Course from The Stronach Group to the State of Maryland as of July 1. The May 15 approval guarantees that the Preakness Stakes will stay 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. Wes Moore.

Under the master agreement, ownership of Pimlico will transfer 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 Jan. 1, 2025, at a cost of one dollar per year, where races will be held while construction is underway at Pimlico, although the 150th Preakness is expected to be held at Pimlico next year.

The Stronach Group will retain ownership of Laurel Park and can sell or redevelop the property for non-racing use. The agreement 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 Greg Cross, chair of the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority.

The agreement 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.

“This agreement is a win for our industry and importantly a win for the community, notably Park Heights,” said Belinda Stronach, CEO, president and chair of The Stronach Group.

The related Horse Racing-Racing Facility Ownerships and Construction Racing Operations bill, signed by Gov. Moore last week, provides funding and authorization for the 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.

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