No, Horse racing is not “yesterday’s sport” and Pimlico is worth saving

Bill Hamilton wrote an opinion piece in The Sun stating that any effort to revitalize Pimlico Racecourse (and the surrounding neighborhood) would be a “ridiculous” waste of time, money, effort and resources (“Pimlico: a dead horse,” Dec. 28). Mr. Hamilton suggests that us Baltimoreans are too fixated upon nostalgia and goes on to baselessly denigrate the Preakness as an event for people wearing silly hats, operated by “cheating trainers” who abuse horses for a living, glibly labeling the racing industry as “yesterday’s sport.”

As a horse owner, the suggestion by Mr. Hamilton that those of us in the sport are cheaters and abusers of the animals we care so much about is not only insulting, but absurd. Because it is clear that Mr. Hamilton is wholly ill-informed, and knows absolutely nothing about the industry or positive economic impact that the Preakness annually brings to our city, I thought it important to introduce some facts into the discussion.

A 2018 economic impact study generated by the American Horse Council determined that the Maryland horse industry added more than $1.3 billion to the state’s economy, with $572 million dollars being contributed by the racing industry. Moreover, the racing industry supports more than 5,200 jobs in our state. With regard to the Preakness, in a 2017 report, the Maryland Department of Commerce found that the Preakness weekend generated a nearly $40 million positive impact for our city. In addition to the undeniable economics, the publicity and prestige that goes along with hosting one of the top 10 sporting events in the nation every year is simply immeasurable.

Is Horse Racing Dead? 8th Consecutive Laurel Park Meet Soars

Press Release

For the third consecutive year and eighth consecutive meet, Laurel Park registered an increase in average daily handle during its recently-completed summer meet.

Laurel’s average handle during its 33-day summer meet was $2.725 million, up 25.6 percent over last summer’s average of $2.170 million.

Total handle on Laurel’s summer meet was $112 million, up from $63.2 million last year when there were 24 live race days.

“We’re pleased that our product continues to trend upward with bettors, and horsemen throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast continue to support our program,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We will continue to build our product with quality racing, full fields and improvements throughout our facility, and we truly believe our upcoming fall meet will be the best in recent memory.

The fall meet will offer 44 stakes worth $4.42 million in purses, and a number of Super Saturdays highlighted by the De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) Sept. 16, the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G2) and Commonwealth Derby (G3) Sept. 30, and the James F. Lewis, City of Laurel and Safely Kept Nov. 11, the day when the career and life of Maryland champion Ben’s Cat will be honored.

On Saturday, Oct. 21, Laurel Park will play host to the 32nd Jim McKay Maryland Million, “one of the greatest days of the year in Maryland,” Sinatra added.