Miller backs special session to keep Preakness

March 19, 2009|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,laura.smitherman@baltsun.com

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller expressed willingness yesterday to holding a special session of the General Assembly if legislation is needed to ensure the Preakness Stakes stays in Maryland.

Miller, a staunch supporter of horse racing, has been talking in recent days about the possibility of the state taking over the race in case owner Magna Entertainment Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection this month, seeks to sell the rights to an out-of-state buyer.

"It's not only a matter of pride, it's a matter of economic development," Miller said. "The question is, do you want the Preakness run in Florida or California? Or even worse, do you want the Preakness run in West Virginia or Delaware?"

The current legislative session ends April 13, and Miller said state officials must wait for Magna's next move. The best option, he said, would be a "white knight" buyer to take over Magna's tracks in Maryland and keep the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course.

While Maryland law gives the state the option to buy the Preakness if it is for sale, that would be the last resort, Miller said.

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