Maryland's March Madness: First the Baltimore Colts, now the Maryland Preakness
D.C., April 10, 2009—The Maryland
legislature is considering a bill to seize the Preakness Stakes, under the
power of eminent domain. The bill would give the state ownership of Pimlico
Race Track, where the race is run, as well as the trophy, name, and other
properties associated with the Preakness.
The 1-3/16 mile-race, run the third Sunday in May, serves as
the second race in the annual Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing.
Pimlico and the Preakness are owned by Ontario-based Magna Entertainment, which
perhaps did not realize the facility was located in a third-world country where
property can be seized at the drop of a bill.
The legislative maneuvers are an eerie replay of Maryland’s ill-fated
attempt to seize its former football team, the Colts, in March 1984. That led
to the team’s sudden departure to Indianapolis
under cover of darkness.
“Like the Baltimore Colts, the Preakness ought to bolt,”
said Competitive Enterprise Institute General Counsel Sam Kazman. “Unfortunately, while
there may be no problem transporting the horses, physically moving the track
might be a bigger problem.”
CEI Senior Fellow Eli
Lehrer agreed. “I’d suggest that the owners of Pimlico dismantle the track
piece-by-piece, load it onto some trucks, and take it to a state where the
government actually respects private property,” he said. “The Preakness has
brought a lot of publicity and money to Maryland
over the years. It’s ironic that Maryland’s
government is now planning to steal it.”
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public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited
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