As 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird ran away with a shocking Kentucky Derby victory, there was more Pimlico-related news out of Baltimore yesterday, as Magna Entertainment, the track’s bankrupt owner, withdrew its proposal to auction off the historic track and a smaller Maryland track, Laurel Park.
The announcement at least temporarily stalls the brewing battle between state lawmakers and private bidders over control of the track. In April, an emergency measure passed by the General Assembly authorized Governor Martin O’Malley to use eminent domain to seize the tracks after one local bidder threatened to raze Pimlico. A lawyer representing Maryland told the Baltimore Sun that Magna’s next move is unclear.
Meanwhile, after a crowd of nearly 8,700 attended Pimlico’s opening day on April 18, ticket sales for the Preakness, the track’s only money making event, have lagged for two main reasons: The sour economic climate has eliminated sponsors and decreased the number of high priced “Corporate Village” tents, and advance Infield ticket sales are down 17 percent following a new policy banning outside alcoholic beverages from the Infield. With the future of Pimlico already in doubt, track managers from the Maryland Jockey Club might have exacerbated their losses by instituting the new policy.