By T. D. Thornton
The inclusion of an August race meet at Pimlico Race Course for the first time in 17 years was the only major change in the 2022 slate of racing dates approved Thursday by the Maryland Racing Commission.
Although not discussed at the Oct. 28 meeting, one obvious benefit to the mid-summer move from Laurel Park to Pimlico will be the ability to give Laurel's turf course a break during the hottest time of the year in Maryland.
Pimlico last ran in the late summer back in 2005, when its calendar also included dates in January, April through June, and August.
In 2006, Pimlico's schedule got cut to an April-through-June meet. Between 2007 and 2015 it raced just April and May. In 2016 Pimlico raced May and June, and from 2017 to 2019 the schedule was pared down to only 12 dates in May in conjunction with the GI Preakness S.
The schedule for the last two years at Pimlico got thrown into an aberrational flux.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out spring racing in the state, so Pimlico raced just six dates over two weeks in September and October in conjunction with the repositioned Preakness.
In 2021, Pimlico had to pick up dates in April through August because of the emergency closure at Laurel to install a new main track.
After years of debate over what to do with the decaying Pimlico, its owner, The Stronach Group (TSG), has recently partnered with the city and the state for a an approximately $400-million redevelopment plan that will keep the Preakness in Baltimore while revitalizing the track's surrounding neighborhoods.
The Washington Post recently described the plan, which is just getting started, like this: “TSG will turn Pimlico over to the city. Its clubhouse and grandstand will be demolished and the racetrack rotated 30 degrees to free up parcels to sell for other development. A new clubhouse and event center will be erected, but horse training and stable operations will be consolidated at Laurel Park. All racing will move to Laurel, except for a short spring meet in Baltimore that will include the Preakness.”
Maryland's full 2022 Thoroughbred calendar follows:
• Laurel (147 dates over four meets): Jan. 1-Mar. 31, Apr. 1-May 8, June 1-July 31, Sept. 6-Dec. 31.
• Pimlico (21 dates over two meets): May 8-31, Aug 1-25 and Aug. 30.
• Timonium (7 dates): Aug. 25-Sept. 5.