Governor Martin O’Malley announced today the introduction of legislation designed to give the State greater authority over the Preakness Stakes to keep it in Maryland. 

“We are introducing legislation today to protect Maryland’s interests in the Preakness, and preserve the options available to the State to keep the rich tradition of the Preakness here in Maryland, where it belongs,” said Governor O’Malley. “Maryland’s horse industry not only generates tens of thousands of jobs and produces a substantial economic impact for our State, but our centuries-old heritage of horse racing and horse breeding is woven deeply into the cultural fabric of Maryland.” 

“The State of Maryland is taking the action necessary to ensure the Preakness Stakes remains a Maryland tradition and a source of pride for Marylanders,” said Attorney General Gansler.   “Through this legislation, the State will have the power to exercise its authority over Pimlico, Laurel Park, and the Bowie Race Course, ensuring the horse racing industry continues to be a vital asset to the State.” 

Under the legislation introduced today, the State is authorized to acquire by purchase or exercise eminent domain over, Laurel Park, the Bowie Race Course Training center, and Pimlico Race Course – the second oldest race track in America – and all rights and racing events that are associated with the Preakness Stakes and its trophy, the Woodlawn Vase.  The bill also authorizes the Maryland Economic Development Corporation to issue bonds for these purposes. 

“The Preakness is part of Maryland’s cultural heritage,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. “It’s not just a matter of pride – it’s also a matter of economic development for the City of Baltimore and the State.” 

Maryland’s horseracing industry began in 1873 with the first running of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.  The equine industry is a critical component of Maryland’s economy, generating more than 20,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $1.5 billion.  These figures also do not include the economic impact of the horse industry on tourism and the economic enhancement to real estate values, estimated at $100 million annually.

“The Preakness is an important part of Maryland’s history and an economic engine for our State,” said Speaker Michael E. Busch. “This bill would give the State another tool to help protect this second jewel of the Triple Crown.” 

Horse breeding and horse racing have an economic impact on the state that more than triples all other sports combined, and comprised 78 percent of the total estimated annual sports impact of $1.1 billion.  Horse farms in Maryland occupy over 200,000 acres of farmland, preserving valued green space and serving as a buffer to development. They are a critical element in the maintenance of the state’s agricultural heritage.