- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2003

BALTIMORE — A $46.3 million facelift of Laurel Park will include a new stable area and training track under the first phase of improvements by its incoming owners.

Magna Entertainment president Jim McAlpine outlined a three-year, $30million-plus renovation project that was promised when Magna bought Laurel and Pimlico Race Course in December. Magna will reveal its Pimlico renovations June18. Both facilities are expected to gain new grandstand/clubhouses in coming years that would push renovations to more than $100million.

The failed slot machine legislation in Maryland delayed some renovations.

McAlpine wanted to spend $2.3million in coming months on the first phase, and agreed to place the remaining $2.7million he pledged by August in escrow under the Maryland Racing Commission’s supervision.

“Slots accelerate the pace, but we had to be careful in our planning to anticipate all types of scenarios,” McAlpine said. “We’re five months behind where we’d like to be.”

McAlpine sidestepped whether any management changes at the Maryland Jockey Club are expected after the 128th Preakness Stakes on May17. Magna chairman Frank Stronach, whose Red Bullet won the 2000 Preakness, will arrive on May16.

“With all of our acquisitions, we take a bit of a watch and [see] in the beginning,” McAlpine said. “I don’t think we ever said anywhere that everything you do is wrong. Let’s understand what’s being done.”

Meanwhile, Midway Road was added to the Preakness while Eye of the Tiger and Champali were withdrawn to leave the field at six.

Midway Road won an allowance race at Keeneland by 11 lengths in his last start under trainer Neil Howard, whose Summer Squall took the 1991 Preakness. Eye of the Tiger was shipped to California.

Trainer Bobby Frankel wavered over entering Empire Maker. Frankel repeated he won’t make a decision on the Kentucky Derby runner-up until Sunday, following the colt’s workout at Belmont Park.

This could be the smallest Preakness since 1979, when four horses lost to Spectacular Bid. Confirmed entrants are Derby winner Funny Cide, third-place finisher Peace Rules, Indian Express, Scrimshaw, Senor Swinger and Midway Road.

Trainer Barclay Tagg said he’ll send Funny Cide to Pimlico on Wednesday from Belmont. Tagg considered shipping the colt on race day.

Notes — Mineshaft, Balto Star, Western Pride, Perfectly Pleasant, Total Day, Hero’s Tribute, Aeneas, Colonial Colony, Total Impact and Night Patrol are expected for the $600,000 Pimlico Special on May16. … Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger won his 400th career race aboard St. Johns Prospect yesterday. The nation’s Eclipse Award-winning apprentice loses his rookie status on May24. … The commission will study whether weights should be raised to diminish health concerns by jockeys, many of whom resort to daily weight-loss extremes.

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