Preakness Stakes could forgo $250M Pimlico renovations, move to new track in 2020

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The Preakness Stakes may be synonymous with Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course, but the second stop for horse racing's annual Triple Crown competition may be swapping Old Hilltop for a New Hilltop as soon as 2020.

The 148-year-old Pimlico track, named after English settlers of the 1600s and the historic birthplace of the Dixie Stakes, will once again play host to the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. And while the Stronach Group, the company that owns Pimlico, has made assurances that the second leg of the Triple Crown will stay in the state's largest city through 2019, the Associated Press reports that the 145th Preakness could be held in a different location altogether.

Even in its old age, Pimlico hasn't waned as a destination for horse-racing fans, drawing a record 140,327 visitors at the 2017 Preakness Stakes. In terms of wear and tear, however, from the track to what Stronach itself has deemed an "old grandstand," the AP says Pimlico is looking at "between $250 million and $320 million" in future renovations -- totals provided by the Maryland Stadium Authority.

By the end of the year, a second phase of the Stadium Authority's Pimlico study will be completed, the AP noted, and at that point, Stronach COO Tim Ritvo could be in a position to either plan for the renovations or forgo them and move the Preakness to nearby Laurel Park, another track owned by the company.

"We've had discussions of what it would be like at Laurel, but not in detail," Ritvo told the AP. "There are lots of options at Laurel. Our focus at Laurel was to continue to improve the facility for year-round racing, and then also to host a Breeders' Cup there very soon."

Laurel Park, located about 29 miles south of Pimlico Race Course, opened in 1911. It has hosted various stakes races, including the 1990 Grade 1 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash Stakes, the 1988 Commonwealth Derby and the Maryland Million Classic.

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