MJC Informs MRC About Pimlico Transition Plan

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Maryland Jockey Club continues work on a plan to transfer the roughly 200 horses stabled at Pimlico Race Course to Laurel Park, but the timeframe hinges upon completion of years-long work in the three large tent barns at Laurel Park.

MJC Acting President Mike Rogers told the Maryland Racing Commission Aug. 1 that work must be done on the unoccupied Tent Barn 3 before an occupancy permit can be considered by Anne Arundel County. The sprinklers in Tent Barns 1 and 2 require upgrades. Horses will rotate between the three barns as the work is done. Other aspects of the project have been completed, he said.

“There have been some hiccups along the way,” Rogers said. “When (the project) is finished we can begin the transition of year-round training from Pimlico to Laurel Park.”

Rogers said Laurel Park currently has room for the horses now stabled at Pimlico but they would have to be scattered at Laurel—not ideal for trainers—until the tent barn project is completed.

MJC has been working in conjunction with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association on lining up rooms for backstretch workers who plan to move from Pimlico to Laurel Park. 

“We’re going to still have security and facilities managers at Pimlico,” Rogers said. “You can seal the (main) track and not use it, and then open it up again (before meets). This year we raced in the spring and will race in the fall. I don’t see any change in that schedule for next year. Pimlico is a great brand. The public loves it.”

Pimlico last closed for training on a regular basis in 2013, except for the months around the Preakness meet, when year-round stabling and training activities were conducted at Laurel Park and Bowie Training Center.

As of July 1, 2023, there are 918 horses stabled on the grounds at Laurel Park and an additional 237 at Pimlico. With the hopeful opening of additional stalls soon, Laurel Park will be able to accommodate nearly 1,400 horses which will put its’ capacity on par with other racetracks in the Mid-Atlantic region. 

An agreement exists between MTHA and MJC that assures all backstretch workers and horses must be sufficiently and safely accommodated at Laurel Park before Pimlico is permitted to close for training as a cost-saving measure.

The MRC approved the MJC’s request for a nine-day meet at Pimlico from Sept. 8-24 with race on a Friday-through-Sunday schedule. The Laurel fall meet, also approved by the MRC, will be 51 days from Sept. 29 through Dec. 31. Laurel will offer racing four days a week in October and November (Thursday through Sunday) and three days a week in December (Friday through Sunday) with a few exceptions.