Category Archives: Politics

Pinnacle Race Course assets to be auctioned?

The Southgate News Herald published a story Tuesday suggesting that some assets from Pinnacle Race Course may soon be up for sale.

The story focuses on the appointment of a new Huron Township deputy clerk, but the last few paragraphs are of particular interest….

So far, the department collected more than $55,000 in late taxes. Currently, it is preparing to auction off assets from Pinnacle Race Course and Simply Dave’s.

The township placed orange stickers, dated April 1 and signed by Spangler, on the clubhouse doors at Pinnacle, 18000 Vining Road, for nonpayment of taxes. The Thoroughbred track, owned by Post-It Stables of Jackson, did not reopen for the 2011 season and stopped simulcasting races Nov. 3, 2010.

As of May, Pinnacle owed just under $265,000 to the township for personal property taxes, water bills and state “breakage fees” and just over $1.5 million to Wayne County for real property taxes.

Obviously, there is not a lot of detail there about what would be auctioned off, when it would happen or how likely it is to actually happen. Any speculation on what the auction might entail is just that – speculation – given the half-sentence of information we have. However, if those “assets” include the things necessary to put on the show, like the stripping down of Great Lakes Downs in 2009, that would be a hard setback to overcome on the road to opening the doors once again.

Keep an eye out for future developments.

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Michigan Gaming Control Board issues statement on Mount Pleasant Meadows

From the Michigan HBPA website…

MGCB ISSUES DECISION TO YESTERDAY’S ATTENDEES, rec’d at 4:19pm July 15, 2011:

“Gentlemen,

Based upon our discussion yesterday, there exist some outstanding matters that need resolution prior to any live racing at Mt. Pleasant Meadows.

Foremost, as discussed, the outstanding breakage needs to be paid and all aspects of the race meet application that require modification need to be amended, including details of capital improvements as discussed in our meeting.

The legality of the use of the purse pool to fund track operations was brought up last year by the HBPA and the MGCB was asked to look into the matter. In doing so, the advice from the Attorney General’s office was that purse pool funds could not be used for track operations, thus the purse pool order was issued earlier this year. Additionally, audits of the purse pool were conducted to further identify its usage.

Based upon review and internal discussion of the information from yesterday’s meeting and contracts recently provided between the associations and the track, the contracts denote that the purse pool remains to be used to fund operations through the use of assessments. Although this may have been prior practice by the tracks, it is by no way an “industry standard” and based upon advise from the Attorney General’s office we cannot find it to be a viable use of the purse pool funds. The track must find alternative methods to fund operations outside of deriving money from the purse pool, even if indirectly through a horsemen’s account. The MGCB is not opposed to the use of fees prior to a race, such as a starter fee, which are not derived from the purse pool.

Until the aforementioned information is addressed and we are provided contracts which adhere to the racing act and purse pool order, live racing cannot commerce at Mt. Pleasant Meadows.”

Thank You
Erik Pedersen, Deputy Director
Division of Horse Racing, Audit & Gaming Technology

With a week to go before Mount Pleasant’s scheduled opening day, and just days before the races draw, this is not promising news. One can only hope the situation is promptly rectified and racing in Michigan can finally get off the ground as planned.

UPDATE: The Michigan HBPA has put out a response to the Gaming Control Board’s ruling…

MT PLEASANT MEADOWS: Efforts are currently underway to address and comply with ALL request made in Erik Pedersen’s letter.

The MI-HBPA, GLQHA and MPM are amending contracts to meet requirements to permit entries to be taken Tues. and continue for plans for opening day Saturday July 23, 2011. A meeting is scheduled for Sat. and the MGCB will be available as the process continues.

Information will be updated ASAP.

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Change proposed for Michigan state-bred purse supplements

The Michigan State Senate introduced an amendment to the Michigan Horse Racing Act of 1995 on Tuesday to account for the possibility of no live Thoroughbred racing in 2011.

Senate Bill 434, introduced by Fowlerville Sen. Joe Hune, would distribute Michigan’s state-bred purse supplements to horses that win allowance or claiming races outside the state if no live racing is held within the fiscal year. Michigan’s current fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Here is the proposed language to be added to the Act (section 6.A). The new addition is in bold…

(a) A sum to be allotted thoroughbred race meeting licensees to supplement the purses for races to be conducted exclusively for Michigan bred horses. If, during a fiscal year, live thoroughbred horse races are not conducted at a licensed race meeting in this state, the sum appropriated under this subdivision shall be paid at the end of the fiscal year to supplement the purses of Michigan bred thoroughbred horses that win allowance and claiming races at licensed horse race tracks outside of this state.

To read the bill, click here.

To follow the bill as it makes its way through the Capitol, click here.

UPDATE: A similar bill is making its way through the State House of Representatives regarding Michigan’s breeder’s award program. Here is the language that would be changed in HB 4784…

If, during a fiscal year, live Thoroughbred horse races are not conducted at a licensed race meeting in this state, a sum shall be appropriated under this subdivision to pay breeders’ awards, in amounts not to exceed 10%  of the gross purses, to the breeders of Michigan bred Thoroughbred horses that win at races conducted at licensed horse racetracks outside of this state.

The bill, introduced last Thursday by Rep. Cindy Denby, was read for a first time and referred to the House Committee on Appropriations.

To read the bill’s language, click here.

To track the bill as it makes its way through Lansing, click here.

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Michigan Gaming Control Board issues purse pool executive orders

The Michigan Gaming Control Board issued a pair of executive orders Friday addressing the status of the state’s Thoroughbred simulcast purse pool while a live meet still hangs in the balance for 2011.

The orders freeze distributions from the Thoroughbred simulcast purse pool account and place the funds in escrow until a Thoroughbred race meeting license is issued.

Gaming Board executive director Richard Kalm also issued a series of comments and reiterations in the same document to discuss the current state of the purse pool, who controls it and exactly how the funds are supposed to be used according to the Michigan Horse Racing Act of 1995.

Among the key points stated by Kalm in the order, he noted that, “at this time, excluding a mixed breed race meeting licensee, there is no race meeting licensee in the State of Michigan approved to conduct a full schedule of  thoroughbred horse racing.”

The mixed breed licensee referred to in the above statement is Mount Pleasant Meadows in central Michigan. Whether or not the state’s three harness tracks can apply for the Thoroughbred meet in the future was not clearly stated in the document.

Kalm also pointed out that the purse pool money is to be used solely for purses and administrative costs. Unauthorized use of the monies, including operating expenses, loans and obligations to maintain a race meeting, would be met with stiff penalties.

To read the Gaming Control Board’s executive orders, click here.

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Michigan Gaming Control Board releases 2010 report

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has released its annual report to the Governor regarding horse racing in the state.

The report examines the wagering-related revenues and tax money generated by each of the state’s five racetracks, as well as a very basic overview of the Gaming Board’s horse racing activities, revenues and expenditures.

To read the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s 2010 report on horse racing, click here.

As time allows, I will be analyzing the trends in Michigan racing over the last decade, based on information provided by the state’s annual reports. Subjects will include statewide figures, Thoroughbred racing, Mount Pleasant Meadows, and perhaps the harness tracks.

Until then, feel free to discuss your thoughts on the latest report.

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Michigan HBPA responds to Pinnacle’s closure

The Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has released a statement to the media regarding the voluntary surrender of Pinnacle Race Course’s 2011 racing and simulcast license earlier this week.

Information from the press release, written by executive director Gary Tinkle, has been used by several Detroit-area publications in their coverage of the story.

Thorougbred Racing: Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Richard Kalm issues an Order accepting the voluntary surrender of Pinnacle Race Course’s 2011 Live racing license and 2011 Simulcast permit. Not unexpected, but none the less, an extreme blow to the many family jobs depending on live thoroughbred racing. A sad outcome for an industry that has been a good business citizen for the state for 77 years.

Gary Tinkle,
Executive Director

Check back for further updates.

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Pinnacle Race Course surrenders racing license

Pinnacle Race Course will not operate live racing or simulcasting this year after voluntarily surrendering its 2011 race meeting license earlier this week.

The Michigan HBPA website reports that it received an executive order from the Michigan Gaming Control Board making the action official. The Gaming Board had set a deadline of Wed. May 4 at 1 p.m. for Pinnacle to submit the paperwork needed to fulfill the “conditional” status of its 2011 racing license.

From the Michigan HBPA website

MGCB..Post It Stables, Inc. d/b/a Pinnacle Race Course: MGCB issued an “ORDER ACCEPTING THE VOLUNTARILY SURRENDER OF THE 2011 THOROUGHBRED RACE MEETING LICENSE AND 2011 SIMULCAST PERMIT”

“In  a letter dated May 2, 2011 and sent via electronic mail, Post It Stables,Inc., d/b/a Pinnacle Race Course, voluntarily surrendered its 2011 Thoroughbred Race Meeting license and its 2011 Simulcast permit.

The simulcast purse pool monies will be placed into escrow under the Horse Racing Law of 1995, Public Act 279 of 1995; MCL431.301 et seq., and the promulgated administrative rules. Further instructions will be provided under a separate order…..

This Order does not preclude Post It Stables, Inc., d/b/a Pinnacle Race Course from continuing to resolve its financial viability issues and to submit an application for the 2012 horse racing season under the Horse Racing Law of 1995, Public Act 279 of 1995; MCL 431.301 et seq., and the promulgated administrative rules.”

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Richard S. Kalm, Executive Director
Date: May 4,2011
Michigan Gaming Control Board

Any updates on this story will be reported as they are made available.

UPDATE: Here is a copy of the Executive Order issued by Gaming Board executive director Richard Kalm.

Crain’s Detroit Business wrote a piece on Pinnacle giving up its license, with quotes from co-owner Lisa Campbell and Michigan HBPA executive director Gary Tinkle. That story can be read here.

Here is a story from the Southgate News Herald, based in Detroit’s downriver area.

The Daily Racing form’s take on the story.

The Detroit News’ writeup.

The Detroit Free Press story.

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Michigan Gaming Board sets deadline for Pinnacle

It appears the Michigan Gaming Control Board is taking steps to finalize Pinnacle Race Course’s status in regards to its conditional license.

The Detroit-area Thoroughbred track has been closed for live racing and simulcasting since last November. Since then, the state’s flat racing industry has been on hold, without solid plans of when, where or if racing will be held in Michigan in 2011 or beyond.

This information appeared on the Michigan HBPA website yesterday…

MGCB: The MGCB has requested Jerry Campbell Post It Stables d/b/a Pinnacle Race Course  to have all documents to meet “conditions” for 2011 license to the MGCB by 1:00pm Wednesday May 4, 2011

- Michigan HBPA

Any updates will be reported as they become available.

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Michigan Notebook: April 15, 2011

- Mum remains the word regarding the status of Michigan’s flat racing schedule for 2011, as the Michigan Gaming Control Board continues to mull over the fate of Pinnacle Race Course’s provisional racing license. The track has been closed for business since the end of last year’s meet.

An emergency meeting was scheduled between the Gaming Control Board and the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association for April 14, but the HBPA website reports that the meeting had been cancelled.

From the Michigan HBPA website…

MGCB MEETING CANCELLED!!!!  for Thur. 12/14… No reason given, but will be scheduled for another time. It is a shame what’s going on with respect to horse racing. How does one run their business under these circumstances? Horsemen and women deserve better after all the years of being a productive industry for the state. It is becoming more difficult to argue with comments, that this industry is being systematically dismantled. Would this happen with an industry having 12,000 jobs in one place, rather than scattered around the state in almost every county? One location has only couple of legislators, the horse racing has many more, where are they?

- Michigan HBPA

- After a months-long period of inactivity, the bill to include a “representative of the equine industry” on the Michigan Gaming Control Board has again seen the light of day in the state’s House of Representatives. On April 12, the bill was referred to a second reading before the entire House after receiving approval from the House Committee on Agriculture. Follow the activity of HB 4151 as it makes its way through Lansing here.

- A piece of Michigan fair racing history is currently up for sale on eBay. A pair of racing programs from the 1924 Alpena County Fair is being offered on the auction website with a pair of Alpena Sports Hall of Fame programs. It is not specified whether the programs for the northeast Lower Peninsula fair feature flat or harness racing. As of the time this was first posted, five days remain to place a bid on the programs.

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Michigan Gaming Control Board approves 2011 racing dates

The Michigan Gaming Control Board recently approved the 2011 racing schedules for Michigan’s five pari-mutuel racetracks.

The schedules are significantly larger than those run in 2010, but as it has been proven in previous years, these dates are far from written in stone and are subject to change at a moment’s notice. Any modifications in the flat racing schedules will be reported as they become official.

The Michigan HBPA website reports the dates for Pinnacle Race Course…

The Executive Director [Richard Kalm] has determined and concluded that the applicant complies with the standards and the requirements for granting a race meeting license and simulcast permit under the Act and Administrative Rules.” The order indicated that the licensee is subject terms and conditions.

84 race days approved: Begins May 27, 2011 through October 29,2011.

- 3 days a week Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from May 27 through June 25
- 4 days a week Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays June 28 through October 29

From the Mount Pleasant Meadows Facebook page

Mount Pleasant Meadows has been granted a total of 23 Mixed Breed race dates, from Saturday, May 14, 2011 through Sunday, August 21, 2011;

- One day per week, Saturdays, from Saturday, May 14, 2011 through Saturday, June 4, 2011;
- Two days per week, Saturdays and Sundays, from Saturday, June 11, 2011 through Sunday, August, 21, 2011;
- No racing on August 7, August 13 and August 14, 2011.”

The Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association reports the schedules for the state’s three Standardbred racetracks…

Hazel Park (50 dates)
Friday May 6, 2011 through Saturday August 27, 2011
(Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays)

Sports Creek (33 dates)
Saturday January 1, 2011 through Sunday February 6, 2011
(Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) 17 dates

Friday November 25, 2011 through Saturday December 31, 2011
(Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) 16 dates

Northville Downs (24 dates)
Friday February 11, 2011 through Saturday April 30, 2011
(Fridays and Saturdays)

Northville Racing Corporation (24 dates)
Friday September 2, 2011 through Saturday November 19, 2011
(Fridays and Saturdays)

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