09/10/2003 11:00PM

Magna tells of Maryland upgrade


The Maryland Racing Commission on Tuesday commended Magna Entertainment Corp. for progress in meeting its commitment to upgrade the barn areas at Pimlico, Laurel Park, and the Bowie Training Center.

In a meeting at Laurel, Jim McAlpine, president of Magna, parent company of the Maryland Jockey Club, told commissioners Magna had spent $2.8 million on backstretch upgrades as of Aug. 31 and had deposited $2.2 million into an escrow account to pay for ongoing improvements.

"We're going to get it done," McAlpine said of Magna's agreement with the commission to refurbish the dilapidated stables at Pimlico, Laurel and Bowie.

As the first phase of that agreement, Magna was to have spent $5 million by the end of August. Its failure to spend the entire amount had elicited critical comments from commissioners.

The largest single expenditure of the $2.8 million already spent was $681,925 for containers for horse manure and dirty straw.

Other improvements include paving, repairing water lines, upgrading electrical connections in workers' dorms, creating a recreation hall at Pimlico, buying a new ambulance for Laurel, refurbishing bathrooms, upgrading kitchen and laundry facilities, rehabilitating barns and replacing the run down, 20-stall pony barn at Laurel, said Lou Raffetto Jr., the CEO of Maryland Jockey Club.

Construction of new barns at Laurel will begin after the issuance of building permits, McAlpine said. He said he expects the permits to be issued by the end of November.