As horse racing fans in the United States know, Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland, is home to the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the American Triple Crown. While the race itself attracts Grade 1 caliber entrants, Pimlico is no place to hold one of the premier races on the American calendar. Whereas the Preakness is a coveted jewel, the retail facility offering it is about as far from a Tiffany & Co. as one can get.
An excerpt from the Pimlico website reads as follows:
“Historic Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes and second oldest racetrack in the nation behind Saratoga, opened its doors on October 25, 1870. Pimlico has hosted many racing icons for over a century; legendary horses such as Man o’ War, Sir Barton, Seabiscuit, War Admiral, Citation, Secretariat and Cigar have thundered down her stretch in thrilling and memorable competition… On its journey to becoming a true national treasure, Pimlico has earned its patina of age.”
Compare this statement with three of the typical comments on a website that lets people rate various entertainment venues:
1. “Pimlico’s heyday was two generations ago, at least. It shows its age, and is… gloomy and empty for much of the year…”
2. “… Located in a really bad part of town. I’ve been there twice over the years and found it depressing both times.”
3. “If you enjoy watching horse races while wondering which direction the bullets are going to come from, this place is for you…. I have never seen such a disgusting array of impoverished, dangerous-looking drug-addicted miscreants. I have been all over Baltimore and I’ve never been in such fear of being robbed/murdered as when I was at Pimlico. If you value your life, stay far, far away.”
“Pimilco has earned its patina of age,” all right, but not in a favorable sense.
Following the 2013 Preakness, the Baltimore Business Journal carried an article indicating that the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns Pimlico, plans to address the dilapidated state of the racetrack:
“Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas said plans for a $100 million renovation of the 143-year-old Pimlico Race Course will be unveiled in ‘mid to late summer’  and may include tearing down the barns behind the track’s grand stand. ‘Our real charge is that we know something has to be done,’ Chuckas said… during a post-Preakness Stakes news conference. ‘The amenities have to be improved, the experience, the actual physical structure has to be improved.’”
My main question is why the Maryland Jockey Club would want to renovate a racetrack located in an area of Baltimore that is not conducive to attracting customers? The Preakness will always draw a crowd, but what about the remainder of the days on the racing calendar?
Why throw $100 million into a plant that is so poorly located? Seems like that would be doubling down on a bad bet.
The guess here is that a scientifically conducted market research study, among current and potential customers, would not come close to supporting the concept of leaving Pimlico in its present location, even if the venerable racetrack is updated.
Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business