Cooke may move Laurel stables

January 22, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

The sale of 100 acres of Laurel Race Course property to Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke included a provision for Cooke to pay for relocating Laurel's stable area, sources said yesterday.

The new barn area will be built only if Cooke builds a stadium at the Laurel site, the sources said.

The initial arrangement with Cooke called for him to buy 55 acres of Laurel land, but that was expanded on Thursday when Cooke announced he was buying an additional 45-acre parcel.

Laurel/Pimlico operator Joe De Francis said yesterday that engineers "haven't drawn out the specific boundaries," but that the additional land "is located west of Brock Bridge Road and includes part of the [current] stable area."

Laurel's new stable area, accommodating about 1,000 horses, would be built on land referred to as the track's "Howard County parking lot" which is accessible from U.S. Route 1.

A sound-proof tunnel will have to be built under existing railroad tracks to lead horses from the proposed stable area to the racetrack.

Estimates on the cost of such a project have been placed at $15 million, and one source said Cooke originally proposed to contribute only $2.5 million to the project.

De Francis said yesterday that he will not discuss funding for the new barn area.

"But I will say that Mr. Cooke has guaranteed that the new stable area will be built to our satisfaction," De Francis said. He added that construction of the barn area would be supervised by Laurel's general manager, John E. Mooney, and the track's vice president of racing, Lenny Hale.

De Francis said that improvements to the stable areas at Pimlico and Bowie race courses will be predicated on success "in getting the license to build a track in Virginia. There are so many equations that go into that scenario concerning stabling. Once we know the outcome, we can develop strategic plans for what's going to happen [at those two tracks]."

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