Crisis averted?

Some good news came from the Michigan HBPA website on Wednesday…

TRANSFERS APPROVED: Today both the House and Senate Appropriation Committees approved the transfer of funds to the ORC to continue operations until the end of July 2009. The ORC is expected to rescind the June 26 lay-off notices.

 Both bodies also approved the transfer of funds to the ORC to add an additional 38 days to the current 25 for total number of race days at Pinnacle of 63 to be run during the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009. These funds were approved by the HBPA board of directors and will come from the simulcast purse pool revenue used for overnights. This has been a difficult challenge, but that was the only way to have a racing season of 74 days total. The amount approved and needed is $178,600 or $4,700 per day to assist the ORC daily expenses.

After a scary few weeks where the number of race dates Pinnacle Race Course would end up hosting varied day by day and conversation by conversation, it seems this news may offer some needed stability. It is a shame the purse pool will suffer for it, but at least they are putting horses in the gates. It will be tough, but running a few less days than planned is better than not running at all. The racing industry is far from “saved” in Michigan because of this, but at least it keeps the life support plug in the wall for the time being.

Still, I can not help but feel a little skeptical about the announcement. Though this appears to give a definitive answer to the race date question, the road to get there has had so many pitfalls and land mines that I just get the feeling this will not be the last word on the situation; for this year’s meet at least. What to do for next year is a whole new can of worms. I hope I am wrong about this.

Either way, a tip of the hat goes to the horsemen’s organizations for managing to save the season before everything went dark.

I am not sure how this announcement will affect the schedule at Mount Pleasant Meadows – whether it means only Pinnacle will get the ORC’s services beyond July 31 because the Thoroughbred people footed the bill, or if Mount Pleasant will still run its scheduled Sundays until the end of September as planned. If I get an answer, you’ll see it here.

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22 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

22 responses to “Crisis averted?

  1. ragman

    A tip of the hat to who???? Mi-bred you are a little naive. How did the horsemen(s?) group save the meet. From what I can see they are just spectators. True they can refuse to run for less money. That would be laughable. Sometime in the future I’ll post what I think aided the decline of horseracing in Michigan and if anyone finds error in it feel free to let me know.
    RG

    • RB

      Good to hear the days were extended,but a shame the horse people take a blow again!
      Mi gov has been getting their money for nothing and their checks for free from the racing industry in Mi to long!
      The trainers, owners and connections involved with the horses carry the biggest expense!

      Years ago the last year of DRC,the horseman should have banned together and lobbied,etc….against the casinos proposed for Detroit,instead they ventured to a failed harness track in Muskegon.
      Tracks with alternative gambling seem to be staying viable.

  2. ragman

    RB
    I’ve heard this from a lot of different people, trainers, track employees, bettors, etc that when DRC closed the thoroughbred people were offered Hazel Park to run at. All they had to do was pay for fixing the barn area. Instead they took the cheapest fix and exited the metropolitan Detroit area. Huge mistake.
    RG

  3. LK

    Happy that we can continue racing through the meet with our MI-Breds. However something more permanent will need to be done. We need a commissioner that is actually an advocate to horse racing rather than a spineless pawn of Granholm..

    • Otis

      LK,

      I’ve done a lot of Googling the past few days on Ms. White. Read several articles that were written just after she was appointed. Nearly everything I read had her stating her first priority was the “integrity of the game” and nothing about enhancing or helping expand the industry.

      We def. need a commish who is at the very least, proactive if not supportive.

  4. RB

    RG,

    Racing was good when racing at Hazel Park!At the time TB’s were racing there,it was a circuit stop for many top trainers! Mott,Van Berg etc..
    I do not recall at the time when DRC was shutting their doors that the horsemen were offered Hazel Park? It would have been a win win for the horse racing. It is a bull ring and a limestone bottom but if taken care of it sure would have been more profitable for all!For racing to survive in Mi,I only see alternative gambleing(slim and none!) or conducting a meet where the population is like Hazel Park.
    I remember there was a mention about bringing it back to the state fairgrounds but I think there was friction from Hartman and Tyner of Hazel Park!
    On the 2008 stats from the ORC,Hazel Park sure did all right! They made the state of Mi happy!

  5. mibredclaimer

    Sorry I’m late to the party, gang. Looks like you guys are doing a fine job carrying on without me. Anyways…

    Ragman,
    I’ll be the first to admit there were many things the horsemen’s groups could have handled better, but I know several people who went beyond the call of duty to work on settling this thing. Call me what you want, but I believe in giving credit where it’s due.

    As for the Hazel Park deal, that was a little before my time, so I’ll take your word for it.

    RB,
    Agreed, the racing industry has been the state’s piggy bank for far too long. Problem is, as long as the state’s economy is fishtailing, doing anything about it is that much harder.

    I also agree the horsemen’s groups probably should have done more to stop, or at least join up with, the Detroit casinos (again, before my time a bit, so I’m going mostly by stories I’ve been told). The racino was still kind of a new concept at the time, so perhaps that option was not considered.

    LK,
    I’m not going to say anything. I’m just going to nod approvingly.

    Otis,
    The funny thing about that is Michigan is still seen as something of a renegade state in terms of integrity by lots of people. I recall reading one message board post some time ago claiming that every race at Great Lakes Downs was fixed. Regardless of whether it is true or not, a big part of integrity having other people believe it.

    • RB

      Mi claimer,
      The connections at DRC,they did know about the casinos and I believe they did want alternative gambleing. I do not clearly remember if they pursued it or what!
      Seems the trend for gambleing is fast paced which a casino provides,me I would rather sit back read the form and clock the horses in the paddock and on the track!

  6. longshotsblues

    To this ragman individual. You heard what from the horsemen at DRC. You’re talking to one right now. Fix up hazel park barn area??? Is that all?

    You imbecile. They wanted us to REBUILD ENTIRE STABLE AREA. There is only two barns standing at H.P. now and at that time in 1998. Hartman and Tyner are jokes. And you think running in a BULL RING is a good thoroughbred track. OH YEAH, those were good times. FOR WHOM?

    We should of been marching up & down Schoolcraft and Middlebelt when the announcement came down that DRC was sold. When that announcement was being announced on Radio. They put it over the Loud Speakers at DRC. Everyone including me stopped what we were doing and gathered towards the speakers. Some with pitchforks, some with horses in hand. No one ever believed that the bulldozing of DRC would really ever happen.

    Christ, I don’t even have the time right now to type out months worth of the happenings of that time. Hazel Park was and still is a DUMP. When Hartman & Tyner were allowed to buy DRC in the 70s ( which never should of took place, while already owning one track ). They turned DRC into a dump as well. You have absolutely no idea or fact behind what you are writing. Try educating yourself with facts before you type out Bull.

    I started working at DRC when I was 19, in 1976, until the last horse left the grounds Dec. 1, 1998. My real life nickname at that track was LONGSHOT. ( already taking here )

    Hartman & Tyner wanted the thoroughbred racing at the Michigan Horsemen’s expense. Putting up barns 1,500 stalls alone was going to cost in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The racetrack owner usually BUILDS their own track barn area.

    Give me a friggin break. You know nothing. You heard. You heard SH*T.

    I am a horsemen and you RAGMAN know nothing. You are the unknowledgeable and naive one. And the person saying we should of joined up with Casino’s. There was no such thing possible.

    http://www.hbpa.org/affiliatesdetaildisplay.ASP?KEY=19

    http://www.mihbpa.com/Current%20Events.htm

    God I hate people that love to run their mouths but actually know nothing.

    • RB

      Longshot,

      I joined the ranks of racetrackers at Hazel Park! I was only 16!
      Racing was good before Hartman and Tyner took over! Way back when at Hazel Park the horse men paid for and had built a winter racing indoor training track!
      Racing was good before Hartman and Tyner! You had some darn good outfits that made Mi their racing circuit.
      Granted it was a bullring and the old joke was when a horse blew the turn it was that he was heading for the blue light special at K Mart! And yes it was built on a junk yard,rumor was they would find car parts that worked their way up!

      The Mi horse men should have banned together with the harness people and put a stop to the propossed casinos for detroit,although I imagine they are doing bad too being our economy and runaway goverment is out of control!

      Hopefully things will get better for Mi racing but for right now it does not look good.

  7. So this saves the racing this year, what will happen next year. Probally no improvements to Pinnacle this off season, low purses and $4-8 k claiming races all the time. I am beginning to wonder if this is even worth saving. We had graded stakes racing at DRC and now we have this. It is like watching an old friend die a sad and long death.

  8. http://www.equibase.com/static/entry/PNL062009USA-EQB.html

    Purses aren’t bad as you can see, and they are not even remotely all $4-8 claimers.

    The person who has this blog has listed all the links to Pinnacle. Use them.

    Stakes schedule:

    http://www.pinnacleracecourse.com/LiveRacing/schedule.aspx

    As you can see 6 of the Mi. Sire stakes will be altered.

    Being in this business and having never ever thought that these eyes would ever see a live race again in Michigan after 98 ( Don’t travel ). And then waiting 10 long years to last years opening day. Your wrong Bill. We are worth saving.

  9. BWT

    According to The Blood Horse, the states surrounding Michigan are receiving government cooperation and are apparantly NOT under casino control, Ohio and Kentucky are poised to approve racetrack VLT’s, Indiana has a very lucrative program, Illinois is set up to receive 20 million from casino gambling!Miss Jenny G continues to ignore the fact that horse racing is a money making industry and instead lets the casinos dictate her decisions, making her integrety highly suspect in my opinion. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but what happened to the money that racetracks were supposed to receive from casino revenue when VLT’s were voted down?

  10. ragman

    Longshot
    I also would like a viable horseracing industry in Michigan so without getting into the name calling….I don’t contend that Hazel Park doesn’t have poor mangement(if they ever get slots they have a brand new empty building ready to go) but fixing, rebuilding(or what) the barn area and staying in Metro Detroit would have been a better option than going to Muskegon(also a bullring). I communicated with the MIHBPA when they were out there that bettors were turned off with the constant deluge of 1/2 mile races. They continued.
    The TOTAL handle yesterday at Pinnacle was 89K. The handle on the 5th race at Thistledown, a 4k claimer with 10 horses was $ 160,417 not including double or pick 3 money. Yavapai’s simulcast handle for Tuesday was $ 455,956. Pinnacle’s was $90,162.
    If the live horseracing at Pinnacle doesn’t generate any interest or money in the betting pools how will they survive?
    I don’t believe they can if they are only going to feature Mi-breds. My only suggestion is when they go to Monday and Tuesday racing move the starting time to 3:30-4:00 and load up the card with distance races.
    RG

    • Otis

      Regarding your suggestion to move the weekday races to later in the afternoon….

      According to the Horseracing Act of 1995, if a track is located in a city center with another track in the same city center then the TB’s have to have finished their racing by 6:30 pm and the harness are restricted as to what time they can begin racing.

      Pinnacle would need to get approval from C. White, Northville, and H.P. in order to run a twilight card.

  11. mibredclaimer

    Longshot,
    Like I said before, pretty much everything about DRC (except for the occasional memorable Sam McKee call when one of our horses won a race) was before my time and range of knowledge, so I’ll defer to the people who were actually there.

    Also, I hadn’t checked out the stakes schedule since I wrote the post about it. Glad to see they plan to boost the Sire Stakes purses back up to $50k.

    Bill,
    Well, right now, the plan for next year is still up in the air.

    I doubt we’ll see any significant cosmetic or structural improvements until racing is on more solid ground.

    It is a shame to see the sport decline from the days of the Michigan Mile drawing in the world’s best. There have been several reports of the track wanting to bring back the Michigan Mile and introduce a Derby prep, but again, that probably won’t happen until some kind of long-term future is foreseeable. I’d like to see that happen, which makes this worth saving.

    BWT,
    The “sorry we crippled your industry” money is scheduled to dry up next year, if I’m not mistaken. It was one of the key points of Gov. Granholm’s Executive Budget for the upcoming fiscal year. I think it was set to be taken off the books pretty soon regardless of the economic situation, but it sure looks good on the press releases.

    I don’t remember where I saw it, but I recall seeing one article about Kentucky’s VLT situation where their rallying cry was something like “without horse racing, we’re Michigan.” They were referring to the auto industry, but still, when you’re the thing people threaten others they’ll become without change…ouch.

  12. The horse racing act of 1959 instilled that 6:45 pm ( not 6:30 ) deadline on Thoroughbreds, not 1995. Again I started working at DRC in 1976, and that 6:45 pm deadline had always been intact THEN. And I’ll tell you why. So the stinking MUTUAL clerks would have time to run to the night ( harness ) meet and work there as well. I know, I started in the mutuals. Worst decision I ever made, should of started working with the horses from the get go. The harness horsemen have had that BULL hanging over our heads for over 40 years. Our lawyers should of flushed that crap down the toilet long ago.

    Something that is now being fought very hard to be gotten rid of.

    BTW Jack Riggs who just died recently was calling both the TB & Harness meets at DRC & Hazel when I started. The best owners DRC ever had were Zarelli & Co. better known as the Mafia. They knew how to run things meticulously and with total efficiency.

    And Ragman I’m not the one who was doing the criticizing. I just stated FACTS. Hartman & Tyner are bums. Rich ones, never the less BUMS. Your damn straight. It is better to be your own ruler than having some real estate junkies telling you whats to be. F’ them. We opted for Muskegon, which is now all in the past. Reality is now, MI. along with alot of states are in financial ruins. They are talking SLOTS as of immediately in OHIO. Read and keep tuned to the HBPA sites. They update info daily.

    Michigan was almost the last state on the list to finally get simulcasting in 1996, and there is no doubt that we will be last getting the slots. And it was the HARDWORK of the Mi. horsemen and another individual who deserves much credit for helping us get most of our dates back this year. And his name is FICANO.

    I don’t give Opinions, I give you honest to God straight facts.

  13. old time race fan

    I am a casual fan. I applaud the news that Pinnacle can have a near normal schedule this year. Many of the comments here are interesting, but it seems that the bottom line is that Michigan has to get slots at the tracks for them to survive. Indiana and Illinois have casino money; soon Ohio, New York and Kentucky all will have “racinos”. Every other state has bigger purses. All one has to do is check the daily handle at Pinnacle to see that survival is tenuous at best. My only question is: is it even possible with the vote that was passed a few years ago limiting gambling? Wouldn’t there have to be a new referendum to allow the tracks to install VLT’s or slots?

  14. mibredclaimer

    Longshot,
    I remember on Pinnacle’s opening day last year when they had to go straight from the paddock to the gates without much of a post parade because the 30-minute delay from the earlier gate issues pushed things back past 6:45. I think they granted a quickie executive order to keep things going after the deadline. I agree with you though, it’s a rule that appears to have outlived its purpose.

    Even if they did manage to get the 6:45 rule revoked though, the track would still have to put up the proper lighting for night racing. This was discussed at a meeting a few months back and the money just isn’t there to do it right now.

    Old Time,
    If my knowledge of Proposal 1 is correct, getting slots in the racetracks would require a statewide referendum as well as one for the township where the track resides. I am not sure which vote comes first, or if the order matters. Either way, getting all of this done would be incredibly costly to the racing industry, and with the powerful casino lobby and an apparently indifferent governor working against it, nothing is guaranteed.

    I don’t know if racinos alone are the answer to Michigan’s woes, but if everyone else gets them and we don’t, we might not be around long enough to find out.

  15. Remember it? Hell I’ll never forget it. I was stuck on Pennsylvania for 40 mins. with traffic going nowhere fast. I said to myself I waited 10 long years for this moment. Wayne county sheriff’s were turning cars away. I went straight up the shoulder for the last three quarters of a mile. Then at Vining was met by three squad cars, I yelled I got a horse in the third race I’ve got to get in the backside. They yelled back you a owner I said no, a Groom. They said GO! LOL…………. They would of had to shoot me that day to keep me from that track. It was like a scene from Woodstock, people just started to leave their cars along Vining and walk the rest of the way to entrance.

    Unbelievable. I didn’t have to run anything that day, hadn’t even got my license yet. But I GOT IN. Must of hugged at least 100 bodies I hadn’t seen in 10 years ( I don’t travel so never went to Muskegon ) . Then I finally get up on the rail where the starting gate wouldn’t open. And I Thanked God!. It was like he was saying, OK OK I’ll hold things up so you can see the first race go off.

    Let me tell you something people. Grown men had tears welling up in their eyes when that gate finally opened, and you know why? Because of the crowd across the track. They roared louder than the horses hooves on that track that day. And it was once again the sound of thunderous magic.

    I personally never thought these eyes of mine would ever see another live thoroughbred race again in Metro/Detroit. I soaked up as much of that day as I could keep within my soul. As I stood there with my fellow horsemen, waiting for them to get the gate working and opened. I remember watching the last race at DRC on Nov. 8, 1998 and crying along with everyone else. Those were tears of heartbreak and despair.

    First race of Pinnacle last years were tears of pure joy. To see the horses run once again, and because I was finally back with my TRIBE. A Tribe of people I longed to see again. Us people of the HORSE NATION.

    And people are asking is it worth saving?
    You’d have to have been a person that has had horses in their blood. It never leaves you.

    Longshot

  16. And one thing I forgot. The people in New Boston have already stated THEY WANT THE SLOTS AND WOULD UNANIMOUSLY VOTE FOR IT. Romulus on the other side of road also want it as bad. Why the whole state would have to vote for it is beyond me. As far as I’m concerned they can take that Proposal and shove it.

    This state better wake up before it is literally too late for all concerned. The money from the slots would generate so much more money for this financially strapped state, it wouldn’t make any sense not to fight for it. Horse Racing is the only entity that GIVES not takes from the state. We MAKE MONEY for MI. always did and if they continue to allow us, we always will. If this Governor and Co. don’t understand this. They are total imbeciles.

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