Are the cuts to Michigan’s race dates illegal?

The Michigan HBPA reports the horsemen’s organization, the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and Pinnacle Race Course have asked Brighton-based attorney Paul Burns, one of  authors of Michigan’s Horse Racing Law of 1995, to offer an opinion on the Office of Racing Commissioner’s cut in race dates. 

The former MI-HBPA lawyer sent a letter to Racing Commissioner Christine White May 27 outlining why he thinks the proposed reduction in race dates, including a 63% drop at Pinnacle, lacked legal grounds.

In the letter, Burns said the cuts were “not legally permissible and contrary to the purpose to the Act.” Burns also opined there is “no legal basis for a suspension or revocation of a portion of the race meeting license.”

Also, the method in which the notice was issued, Burns said, “violated due process” and caused “irreparable harm to the horsemen.”

The HBPA’s announcement did not specify what exactly made the cuts “not legally permissible,” so after reading this, I printed out a copy of the Horse Racing Law of 1995 to get a better feel for the ground rules of this situation and see what exactly the recent cuts violate, if anything, regarding the law (yes, I have a lot of time on my hands). I did not notice anything in the document or the state’s “Rules of Racing” specifically mentioning a scenario like this or whether it was a legal move. Then again, my legal expertise is miniscule and I am not the one who helped write up the law, so there is more than a good chance I missed something.

As always, I’ll keep my eyes open and my ears to the ground for new developments. 

Until then, have a look at this news segment on Mount Pleasant Meadows by Channel 9 news out of Cadillac. I’m a little upset no one bothered to interview me (couldn’t get the media’s attention on Great Lakes Downs’ last day either), but it does a pretty good job of getting the story across, and at the very least reminds people that there is a track there. 

Here is the latest from the Blood Horse as well.

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4 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

4 responses to “Are the cuts to Michigan’s race dates illegal?

  1. Andrew

    I just found out the MI youth horse racing program has been completely scrapped. Not that it matters much, but they held events throughout the state, even in the Upper Peninsula if I’m not mistaken.

    http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mda/YHRcancelled_273231_7.pdf

  2. mibredclaimer

    Andrew,
    Not a surprising move, but sad nonetheless.

    If my memory serves me right, there were five or six youth racing events at fairs across the state and the best ones from each met at Mount Pleasant Meadows for a final of sorts.

    On a side note, I wonder if the youth racing program ever produced any actual jockeys or other prominent horsemen? I should look into that…

  3. Eric

    I didn’t read the 1995 act, so I’m not going to comment on the possible illegality of the cuts; however, the due process claim could very well have some merit. Giving the dates and then taking them away without proper notice or the opportunity to be heard on the matter does seem like a possible due process violation. Think in terms of suspending a trainer or jockey for a rules violation, but notifying them only of the suspension — no notice of what the violated rule was and no opportunity to have a hearing or appeal the suspension. That would be a clear due process violation. It’s not totally unreasonable to view this situation in the same way.

  4. mibredclaimer

    Eric,
    I too was thrown by the sudden nature of the cuts. While there was obviously a need to act quickly, one would figure such a major decision would not be made without a LOT of discussion with the affected parties or at least some kind of warning. I’ll be curious to see if and how these legal avenues are pursued.

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