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Annapolis Monday's last hours of the Maryland legislature session saw lawmakers accept a plan to renovate Baltimore's historic but outdated Pimlico Race Course and transfer it to state control.

The bill would rebuild the Preakness Stakes' second jewel with $400 million in state bonds. The plan would also transfer Pimlico and adjoining Laurel Park from the Stronach Group to a state-run charity.

Moore, a Democrat, told reporters earlier in the day that “we think it’s important to not just make sure that we’re protecting an industry that means a lot to this state, not just in terms of its history but in terms of its future, but also this is an important bill for the

In 2026, the Preakness would go to Laurel Park while the new facility is developed, returning to Pimlico in 2027. The third Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes, will return to Belmont Park after a two-year absence at Saratoga Race Course during a $455 million redevelopment.

The late-introduced bill had a rocky legislative route. Some politicians feared state liability for operational expenditures. The measure now covers operating losses with horse racing purse accounts.

I'm delighted to gamble on ourselves, but the sector has been hurting, and we can only do so much "Baltimore Democrat Senate President Bill Ferguson remarked. "The state's liability is capped because it's not a blank check."

Rebuilding the track was approved by Maryland lawmakers in 2020, but it never began. New plan uses $400 million in state bonds, up from $375 million. An unspecified training facility is also in the plan.

For decades, the state has debated restoring the racecourse. The 1870 Old Hilltop track opened. Man o' War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and others won there.

Age has long been a worry. For “safety and security of all guests and employees,” the Maryland Jockey Club canceled roughly 7,000 grandstand seats in 2019. Pre-pandemic attendance had dropped to 65,000 on Friday and Saturday in 2023, down from 180,000 four years earlier.

At the close of the legislative session last year, the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority was founded to reconsider possibilities. In January, it recommended investing in Pimlico to hold more races.

Horse racing has historically shaped Maryland culture. The racing and equine sectors have been vital to Maryland agriculture and green space preservation. The state's equine sector generates $2 billion.