Track bidders want Preakness to stay put

politics blog

April 12, 2009

Here's a sampling of last week's entries from The Baltimore Sun's Maryland Politics blog, along with selected comments from readers.

Fretting as tradition

Gov. O'Malley is seeking authority to take the Preakness, Pimlico and Laurel Park by eminent domain, if necessary, to keep the second leg of the Triple Crown in Maryland.

But here's the interesting thing: We've now got at least four people saying they want to bid for the tracks and keep the Preakness in Maryland. Peter Angelos stepped in first. Then came David Cordish, who wants to buy the tracks at the same time that he's angling for a slots license at Arundel Mills. Next up: Carl Verstandig, a Pikesville developer who first said he wanted to raze Pimlico but who has changed his tune. And then there's Halsey Minor, a tech millionaire and racing enthusiast who wants to buy the Maryland tracks and most of Magna's other properties.

Contrast that with the anemic bidding for Maryland slots licenses.

I realize that fretting about the Preakness is a Maryland tradition as rich as the black-eyed Susan, but it's hard to look at the evidence and conclude that the race is at risk.

Andrew A. Green

In response, blog reader Jamie wrote: "I admire the state for doing everything it can to keep the Preakness in Maryland. However, eminent domain seems like an extreme step. ... The better long-term solution for Pimlico is to add slots - sooner than later - and without the odious 67 percent tax rate that inhibited bidding on the original five sites."

But commenter Laura said Maryland shouldn't be so worried: "Let's face facts folks. The Preakness is only worth so much because of the history attached to it. ... Anyone who buys the Preakness would do best to run it in Maryland.

"I know football teams migrate all over the universe, but racetracks are known and favored for their innate properties, like what type of track it is, how fast (or slow) it is, and the climate and local conditions. You can run a race in California and call it the Preakness, but it ain't the same."

Steele's not their cup

The Washington Independent and other news outlets are reporting that organizers of an anti-spending Tea Party in Chicago have rejected a request from Republican national Chairman Michael Steele to speak there.

"We prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in government as well as political parties," according to a response from Tea Party organizer Eric Odom, posted on the Washington Independent site. Odom pokes Steele, saying the chairman "has only just decided to reach out after realizing how big the movement has gotten."

Tea Party "revolts" against government spending are being organized throughout the country on April 15.

David Nitkin

An anonymous commenter wrote, "These people are both lunatics, and the dupes of a few very-right-wing folks who have been planning this for months. This is the most astroturffy of astroturf movements. Steele is well out of it."

But blog reader countywomen disagreed. "The Tea Party folks are not right-wing lunatics. It is a grassroots movement by conservatives of all parties. Mothers and fathers who pay their taxes, mortgages, and employees. We (yes, I include myself) are extremely frustrated and disappointed in our elected officials and we are sending that message with these rallies and protests. Most of us have never rallied before but we are NOW!"

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