Pimlico chronology

May 20, 2000

1743: Maryland Jockey Club founded in Annapolis.

1775-1782: Races suspended because of Revolutionary War.

1783: Maryland Jockey Club resumed, with Gov. William Paca and Charles Carroll, both signers of the Declaration of Independence, as members.

1830: MJC moved from Annapolis to Baltimore.

1870: Pimlico opened. The first stakes winner, Preakness, won the Dinner Party Stakes on Oct. 27.

1873: First running of the Preakness, won by Survivor.

1894: Fire destroyed Pimlico grandstand. Preakness was run at Gravesend in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the next 15 years before returning to Pimlico in 1909.

1919: Sir Barton won Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become first Triple Crown winner.

1938: Largest Pimlico crowd at the time (43,000) witnessed match race in which Seabiscuit beat War Admiral in the second Pimlico Special.

1947: MJC purchased 85-acre tract surrounding Pimlico from Hammond estate for about $1.3 million, and first live telecast (WMAR-TV) in Baltimore originated at Pimlico on Oct. 30.

1952: Ben and Herman Cohen bought Pimlico for $2.2 million.

1957: Victorian-style Members Clubhouse, built for Pimlico's opening in 1870, was restored in major remodeling project.

1958: Maryland legislature defeated a bill to close Pimlico and transfer dates to Laurel.

1960: Modern clubhouse opened, with dining room, theater seating, indoor paddock and jockeys quarters.

1966: On June 16, fire destroyed historic Members Clubhouse, the nation's oldest racing edifice.

1971: Grandstand remodeled, including new seats, floors and heating system.

1973: Glass-enclosed dining rooms built in clubhouse for $1.5 million.

1986: Frank De Francis, Robert and John "Tommy" Manfuso purchased Pimlico from the Cohens for more than $30 million.

1988: After spending $1 million in improvements their first year, new owners spent another $1.5 million on renovations. Corporate tents offered for first time in Preakness infield, and Preakness Special revived after 29-year hiatus. Inter-track wagering with Laurel begun.

1989: Frank De Francis died and his son, Joe, took over presidency of Pimlico and Laurel. Sports Palace opened at Pimlico.

1993: Simulcasting from out-of-state tracks and between thoroughbred and harness tracks begun. State's first off-track betting site opened near Frederick.

1998: Power outage plunged grandstand and clubhouse into darkness and stifling heat for the 123rd Preakness. A record crowd of 91,122 attended, but blackout cost the track an estimated $2 million in lost bets.

2000: Maryland legislature approved a bill to allow a state agency to float bonds to pay for improvements at Maryland tracks. The measure broke tradition by allowing twilight thoroughbred racing.

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