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.