Plenty of mixed emo­tions

All hail the deal that just might keep the Preak­ness Stakes in Bal­ti­more for­ever Horse­men’s sup­port for Mary­land race­tracks plan isn’t quite unan­i­mous

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - COMMENTARY - By Childs Walker

The deal that has been struck to keep the Preak­ness in Bal­ti­more in per­pe­tu­ity still has a few fur­longs to go be­fore it crosses the fin­ish line, but the prospect of a new fa­cil­ity at Pim­lico and a new era for rac­ing in Mary­land is al­most too good to be true.

Imag­ine go­ing to a sparkling new club­house and ac­tu­ally hav­ing the re­strooms in full oper­a­tion … or the elec­tric­ity re­main­ing un­in­ter­rupted in ev­ery cor­ner of the race­track on Preak­ness week­end. No ugly ply­wood patches on the outer façade. No rea­son for NBC Sports to care­fully cal­i­brate the na­tional broad­cast to hide all the other warts that have turned the build­ing into a civic em­bar­rass­ment.

“This is an his­toric and trans­for­ma­tive plan. And the fund­ing lives en­tirely within funds al

Wil­lie Kee could not bring him­self to join the cho­rus of ac­claim for a new plan to re­build Mary­land’s aged race­tracks. In­stead, the 60-year-old horse trainer thought about traf­fic, specif­i­cally the daily drive he might have to make from Pikesville to Lau­rel if the plan passes muster in the Gen­eral Assem­bly.

“Have you been on the Belt­way in the morn­ing?” he said in a weary tone.

Though the plan — forged by Bal­ti­more and rac­ing in­dus­try lead­ers, and re­leased Satur­day — would se­cure the fu­ture of the Preak­ness at Pim­lico Race Course and cre­ate a con­sol­i­dated train­ing cen­ter at Lau­rel Park, it did not in­spire unan­i­mous praise among Mary­land horse­men. Some of those who train horses at Pim­lico year-round feel vexed by the prospect of a forced move to Lau­rel.

“We’re still go­ing to have to get out and move to Lau­rel,” said Kee, who’s based his oper­a­tion at Pim­lico since 2001. “You ask any­body here and it’s the same deal as it was be­fore. We’ve all got to get out of here.”

If the plan re­ceives ap­proval from the

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