BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The grandstands and the infield at Pimlico could be empty come May. Tuesday night, discussions over the Maryland racing schedule came to a screeching halt, leaving the future of the Preakness Stakes up in the air.
Andrea Fujii explains what happened and where we go from here.
The Preakness is at stake if the two major players in Maryland horse racing cannot agree on a plan for 2011. The latest is not going well.
“We can’t run the business where we lose year and year the monies. That we can’t do. That’s impossible,” said Frank Stronach, MI Development.
That’s the perspective of track owners who have presented their offer for the season to the Horsemen Association.
“This agreement is an insult to Maryland racing,” said Alan Foreman, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
The two sides disagree on many things, including the length of the racing season, if the horsemen should pay money to the track owners and if the horsemen should lobby Annapolis for legislation that benefits the track.
Coloring the talk about keeping racing going is slots. The current owners expected to win a slots parlor last year but that didn’t happen.
“They didn’t play by the rules, didn’t submit the application on time and didn’t submit the check. And we shouldn’t have to pay for that failure,” Foreman said.
The Maryland State Racing Commission referees these talks and will have to wait to hear another offer, but no one knows when that could happen.
“Let us work over the next few months to find answers. Let us work together, maybe we find improvements,” Stronach said.
The options now are: the two sides coming to an agreement in the future; there’s no agreed schedule so no racing next year; or the governor uses eminent domain to take over the tracks.
“We appear to have track owners who have no interest whatsoever if racing happens here or not and we cannot continue to be in that situation,” Foreman said.
Another point of contention is how to upgrade both Pimlico and Laurel tracks to attract more people and who should pay for it.
The governor released a statement Tuesday saying he is ready to exercise eminent domain but would prefer both sides to come to an agreement.