The Lim­its of Old-World Charm


A Preak­ness guest (right) places her bet. The Stronach Group, which han­dled about 40 per­cent of the $11 bil­lion bet on horses last year, is de­vel­op­ing an app to make the process more high­tech. “Horserac­ing is the last great sport­ing legacy plat­form that has not yet fully mod­ern­ized,” Stronach says. She’s fac­ing other hand­i­caps: 148-year-old Pim­lico has its charms, in­clud­ing a ready room for jock­eys and bu­glers (below), but it is also known for leaky roofs and ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture. Ren­o­va­tions have been es­ti­mated to cost $300 mil­lion, money that the Stronach Group won’t spend with­out state sup­port. But mov­ing the Preak­ness to Lau­rel Park, the com­pany’s track out­side Bal­ti­more, up­sets tra­di­tion­al­ists—and re­quires leg­isla­tive sig­noff. “We’re com­mit­ted to rac­ing in Mary­land," Stronach says, "but we need a venue that can ac­com­mo­date all of those [mod­ern] things.”

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