Plumbing fails hours before Preakness Stakes

Hours before horses would take their mark for the Preakness Stakes, the plumbing at the aging Pimlico Race Course started to fail, leaving nearly all the women’s restrooms closed.

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Custodians told those in line one bathroom was opened and encouraged the women to use the men's restroom, The Baltimore Sun reported.

"It's a disgrace," Maureen Code, of New Jersey, told the Sun, after having to use the men's restroom. "I just drove 360 miles to come to this race. ... This is a real health hazard."

A pipe broke several days ago and staff had been working to prepare the facility for its biggest race day.

"It gets tougher every year to give the experience that the customer deserves for an event like this," Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group that owns Pimlico, told The Sun. "It's just old infrastructure, and we do everything we can to keep it up to the level we can."

Officials said in February that more substantial changes cannot be made to the facility without causing the need to pay for major renovations, which could cost tens of millions of dollars.

In April, an engineer said the open air seating of Pimlico’s Old Grandstand, its last remaining historic section, was unsuitable to sustain load-bearing weight.

The owners of the 149-year-old track have shown interest in moving the Preakness Stakes to its Laurel Park facility, The Sun reported.

"They should do whatever they can to keep it here but when you pay $270 you should be able to use the bathrooms, eat good food and enjoy the races," Gwendolyn Austin told The Sun. "Now I'm gonna have to hold it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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