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.


Filed under Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

21 responses to “Michigan Notebook: April 15, 2011

  1. ragman

    Maybe the MGCB cancelled because they had an emergency meeting with the casinos over the Dave Bing request for $20 mil more a year in casino taxes.
    I also don’t understand why they have to hear it from the MGCB what is going on with Pinnacle. If the Campbells haven’t decided to settle up their debts from last year then what can the MGCB tell the horsemen?
    Maybe some rich Arab will show up with plans for a Dubai at Pinnacle meet.

  2. Welcome to New Jersey’s story where mutuel clerks may possibly kill of the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park is not on firm ground as everyone thinks it is.

    As you are aware the Governor has decided the state is getting out of racing and there will be no racinos or subsidies. Jeff Gural is ready to lease the Meadowlands and tear down the old grandstand but the tellers union is holding out,

    Meanwhile, at what is more interesting to your readers, the person willing to lease Monmouth Park for five years has been mentioned to be seeking 910 layoffs from Monmouth and the OTW facility they would inherit (there are those many jobs available?) At Monmouth, all labor contracts have expired so the leasor must establish contracts with all the unions including the tellers there, so expect give backs there. In addition, the horsemen want to race 141 days and the leasor is looking at 75 days. As with the trotters, no subsidy is available so the horsemen want to race 141 days while the leasor is looking to have a boutique meet like last year (without the purses; rumored to be a 40% cut). So it is quite possible there will be no racing at the Meadowlands after June 1 (the NJSEA will run the meet through the first condition book).

    I realize it is different, but it is another state where the government is looking to cut racing loose.

  3. ragman

    It is different. Our Governor has probably never even seen a track or met anyone involved in racing. Here the casinos want to see racing gone so they don’t have to put up with any possibilities of any Racino legislation appearing again. This is why they fund the MGCB who regulates racing. The MGCB also furnishes five racing officials at a cost of over $5k(?) a day to see that there is no wrong doing going on. This is at a track that had less than $25k in live handle on get away day last year.

  4. In some ways they are different but in some ways they are not. Some people argue the Hanson Report which triggered this was a means to kill racing off so when they decide to build a casino at the Meadowlands (an inevitability, there would be no racing to get their hands on part of the profit.

    The report was totally pro-Atlantic City and so is the Governor who, while has a no subsidy agenda, is putting government resources into restoring Atlantic City.

  5. Don Daniels

    “It is not specified whether the programs for the northeast Lower Peninsula fair feature flat or harness racing. ”

    AFAIK, none of the Michigan Fairs (at least historically speaking) ever offered T-Bred racing.

    Harness Racing at Alpena and many other existing fairs (few of which offer racing today (just sixteen in 2010)) have racing histories back into the 1880’s, with some even earlier.

    According to the Fair Appendix in the back of “Harness Racing Images” (George Petredean and Lial Trudel), Alpena offered harness racing in 1885 and possibly earlier.

  6. Peggy

    I hate to see thoroughbred racing leave the Metro area but it’s inevitable
    when there has been no publicity from Pinnacle all last year. Nobody
    even knew they were open most of the time. When I would talk about
    racing I was amazed that noone ever even knew they were there. Where
    are their PR people?

  7. Old Time Race Fan

    I hate to see the thoroughbreds gone from Michigan also. I’ve been a fan for many years. However ragman above has pretty well nailed it. You have the state regulators that must be paid; track employees have to make a paycheck; someone has to pay the taxes, lights, water, gas, electric, etc. Plus there is the small matter of purses for the horsemen! All on a daily handle of $25k? I realize that simulcast handle adds to that, but it sure doesn’t compute.

  8. Would doing something like a 5 and 5 with the mixed breed track both racing the same day help? You would get ten races at each track but have to fund only five. They do somehting like this with Beulah and Thistledown in Ohio.

  9. If this State really wanted Horse Racing as dead as all of you seem to think? Then why after getting educated on the HBPA’s ability to pull the T.B. simulcasting signal out of this State, that Richard Kalm seems to be very nervous?

    I realize my statement lacks details but trust me.

    Does Michigan really want all of us dead?

    Not by a LONGSHOT.

    But they’ve finally have been enlightened that if you kill the Thoroughbreds, we kill the Harness. Because without that T.B. Signal the Harness Tracks HAVE NO BUSINESS. And they know it. And now the MGCB knows it too.

    Whether PRC can open or not. We don’t have to run to anybody.

    Racing Act Law of 1995 States:

    There must be a LIVE meet of a Breed to be able to Simulcast that Breed. And it is the HBPA that owns the RIGHT of that Signal.

    Dan Adkins has a big mouth and Harness is crying to the MGCB PRC stopped simulcasting so we don’t feel the Thoroughbreds deserve this and they don’t deserve that.

    Yet the only reason the Harness exist is because of the Thoroughbred Signal we ALLOW THEM.

    Where do they think they’re going to be without it?


    They aren’t running the show and it is about time they know it. I’d shut their mouths once and for all for good. And there wouldn’t be a damn thing they could do about it.

    It must suck to know that we can’t race but yet we hold all the power.

    Click to access HORSE_RACING_LAW_OF_1995_310534_7.pdf

    (i) All applicants conducting licensed race meetings in a city area shall authorize all other race meeting licensees in the state to conduct simulcasts of the breed for which the applicant is licensed to conduct live horse racing. An applicant may not conduct interstate simulcasts unless authorization to do so is given by the applicant, in accordance with subdivision (j), permitting all other race meeting licensees to receive interstate simulcasts of a different breed than they are licensed to race live.

    (j) A race meeting licensee shall not conduct an interstate simulcast of a different breed than it is licensed to race live at its race meeting, unless the licensee has the written permission of all race meeting licensees in a city area that are licensed to race that breed live at their race meetings.

  10. Don,
    My question to you is if there is no thoroughbred race meet, who is there to get permission from? Remember all horsemen groups are trade associations. Once there is no one to do trade with, they may lose their power. If there is no live thoroughbred meet, does section (j) apply?

    I must admit, on my own blog I went on my own tirade against the thoroughbred industry in NJ which is try to extort the standardbreds despite they have no legal right to (but they will get away), http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/2011/04/thoroughbred-extortion.html

    Why is it that the various breeds can’t get along? They all play nice together in the sand box when they are all threatened, but when they are stable, they all stab each other in the backs. Predominantly, it is thoroughbred because they have the financial stretngth in most situations.

    Just your comments, show if the opportunity came along, you would do it to the trotters. Now, admittedly, the trotters would probably do it to you if they can,but let me cite a few more situations:

    Minnesota: They proposed legislation allowing a casino at Canterbury Downs but wanted to exclude Running Aces (a trotting track).

    Iowa: When Prairie Meadows wanted to cut back on running dates and severely cut quarterhorse dates and eliminate standardbred dates, they all worked together. The Prairie Meadows offered the runners more dates and the t-bred horsemen told the quarterhorse and standardbreds, ‘you’re on your own’

    And now in NJ, the harness horsemen realize they need to cut racing dates because there are no subsidies. The t-bred horsemen don’t want to accept the new reality and realizing they are not entitled to any of the Meadowlands simulcasting dollars by law, are coming up with all excuses to extort a percentage of the revenue.

    To quote Rodney King, why can’t we all get along? Are we all that greedy?

  11. Yeah I know you addressed this to somebody else probably because you didn’t want to hear any truth.

    Here In Michigan from the beginning of time the Harness have done every single thing possible to throw roadblocks in front of the Thoroughbreds. Decades and Decades from the 1950s & 1960s.

    Time limits when we can’t race past, arguing when both Hazel & DRC ran both meets. Who should go first Harness or T.B.s. In the late 80s into the early 90s Harness thought they should receive more money, on and on and on.

    Anything and everything. And for years the T.B.s have just had to stand by and take it when they shouldn’t of.

    Harness rejoiced when DRC went down and have caused nothing but problems since Pinnacle was built.

    Northville Downs filling Lawsuits claiming the area can’t have 3 tracks when for 49 years they had them.

    Dan Adkins of Hazel Park filing B.S. Petition with no provisions at all for LIVE RACING, Simulcasting, Purse Revenues, Contractual agreements with either breed.

    And it was solely the Harness complaining about every little detail of anything. So you’re addressing this to somebody else why can’t the Breeds all get along. Go ask the MHHA and the Harness Tracks?

    It is time to shut their mouths once and for all. Harness Tracks exist on T.B.s , on Sat. & Sun. afternoons 95% of the betting is on the T.B.s. Even when there are horses racing live on their tracks at night. More people are still betting the T.B.s

    Without the Thoroughbreds, Harness doesn’t exist. After 60 years of their bull, time to end them leeching off us.


    You’re asking about J?

    What part of I. didn’t you understand?

    (i) All applicants conducting licensed race meetings in a city area shall authorize all other race meeting licensees in the state to conduct simulcasts of the breed for which the applicant is licensed to conduct live horse racing. An applicant may not conduct interstate simulcasts unless authorization to do so is given by the applicant, in accordance with subdivision (j), permitting all other race meeting licensees to receive interstate simulcasts of a different breed than they are licensed to race live.

    The State of Michigan allotted us 84 days for 2011.


    (j) A race meeting licensee shall not conduct an interstate simulcast of a different breed than it is licensed to race live at its race meeting, unless the licensee has the written permission of all race meeting licensees in a city area that are licensed to race that breed live at their race meetings.


    It is not the Track Owner who owns this right. It is the HBPA- Thoroughbred Horsemen. That is why when the NEHBPA pulled there permission for their T.B. signal to be simulcasted. In support – Ohio, Florida, Maryland, Oregon & Oklahoma pulled theirs out of Ma. as well. It is the HBPA Chapters that own this right.

    It is their permission you must have.

    While the sides engaged in battle, the NEHBPA and horsemen across the country shut down simulcast signals. The local horsemen withdrew their permission for races from the New York racing Association to be simulcast at Suffolk Jan. 28 and then HBPA chapters in Ohio, Florida, Oregon, Maryland, and Oklahoma pulled their signals in solidarity.


  12. Longshor, I did not deliberartly attempt to misdrect the question. It was my mistake. I will be the first one to plead ignorance to the history of harness and thoroughbred interests in Michigan coming from the East Coast. I personally find it repugnant that each breed is out to screw the other regardless of the state they are in; though in most states, the show is on the other foot. I really wish each group would work together for their mutual benefit instead of trying to get a leg up on the other. If Michigan Harness interests have been trying to shaft the runners, shame on them.In that case, what goes around should come around.

    I was unaware racing dates were allocated to the thoroughbred horsemen, so my question was moot. My question was what if no dates were allocated at all to the thoroughbreds, then in theory, do the the thoroughbred horsemen have any standing to block the signal.

    I personally believe all breeds working together make for a better industry in the long run instead of each group working to drag the other down. Personally I like what they do at Woodbine, they race the runners during the day and the trotters at night; no one trying to get one over the other. Unfortunately, in most states each one tries to get it over the other the other and in the long run it weakens the parimutuel industry more so..

  13. I Miss DRC

    The 2 breeds have never gotten along. But it also seems the HBPA runs from confrontation. They are not vocal enough, and seem so afraid of losing this year’s purse money by not having a place to race that they don’t act. If the HBPA- Thoroughbred Horsemen’s association was smart, they would make sure the signal was pulled for Derby Day. By doing that they would achieve publicity that would be read throughout the state. The casual race fan who shows up once a year to bet the Derby would be shut out, and for that day the state’s destruction of the horse racing industry is felt by the public. Not to mention, that day is the biggest money maker for both Northville and Hazel Park. And thoroughbred simulcast money generates more tax revenue for the state than harness…think the govenor will notice when its not there?

  14. Sadly, I doubt most people would care if they couldn’t bet the Derby. Oh they would like to, but if the tracks publicized they couldn’t bet the Derby, it wouldn’t be a big deal. The only way they would get pissed off is by showing up and then being told they can’t wager on it. And then, you alienate the puclib further. Unfortunately, all breeds think the public would miss horse racing. They would move on to the next thing. Pulling signals help no one.

    In NJ, I know most don’t care, the thoroughbred horsemen are talking about pulling the thoroughbred signals from the Meadowlands. Besides, the anti-trust issues of an organized boycott, if done carelessly, what happens. You get a nuclear option. The Meadowlands closes and t-bred tracks close up the number #1 simulcast center in the nation which hurts them. There has to be a more rationale way to handle these types of issues.

    I do have one question. Again, I don’t know the politics, but didn’t Hazel Park offer to take on the thoroughbreds. The way I see it a successful meet at Hazel (granted a bull ring) would probably spell the eventual end to harness racing there. What happened to that offer?

  15. ragman

    This coming Saturday afternoon Hazel Park will be carrying Freehold and Flamboro and Northville Downs will carry just Freehold. So Longshot is right. Also click on the Mi HBPA site on the left side of this site and click statistics and you can see a breakdown of simulcasting handle for the whole month. Paints a little different picture.

    In the 50’s and 60’s Hazel Park and DRC both had runners and trotters alternating spring-summer and summer-fall meets with Northville running a summer trot meet when the other tracks were converting their surfaces from one breed to the other. I don’t remember any problems and all had exceptional meets. Michigan racing was at the top of their game.

    Also in the antiquated Mi racing law it states that an applicant for a race meet shall(431.310 Sec. 10(ii)) Possess sufficient financial resources and business ability and experience to conduct the proposed race meeting.

  16. ragman

    Bullring? What is that. 5/8s miletrack with a chute for 6 1/2 f races. Never heard anyone complain back then. Truthfully Pinnacle might be a nice track for the horses but I have to watch the races on TV to see anything.

  17. That’s not my terminology. I have heard thoroughbred horsemen call any track with less than a mile oval a bull ring. Sportsman Park, Pocono Downs (which once had the runners till a race fixing scandal) and a lot of other tracks share that definition. In harness racing, most tracks are less than a mile so they don’t call them bull rings. I believe if you watch the way horses handle the turns on these smaller tracks explains the definition (it reminds me of car racing dirt, where they car sweeps on the turns).

  18. Rail Bird

    All horsemen’s group “CHO’s” (certified horsemen’s organization) in Michigan are well aware of the potential future for horse racing and have a decent working relationship, all are interested in working together, but the current uncertainty make any plans to correct the broken model difficult.
    Horsemen are to supply horses not regulate the industry

  19. In 1998 when DRC went down, Hazel Park said to the HBPA BUILD OUR BARN AREA FOR US.

    Since only a few barns still existed. That was their offer. They had no back side stable area and STILL DON’T. 90% of Harness ships in then back out on race day there.

    The Thoroughbred Horsemen would of rathered gone clear across the State then to deal with these A. H. s again. And it is a BULL RING.

    When they owned DRC they turned it into a dump. Ladbroke didn’t make it much better. I find it interesting that Hartmen, Tyner & Ladbroke bought Canterbury Downs in partnership. They ended up screwing that track up so bad they shut it down. But they didn’t own the property Canterbury sat on. So they couldn’t destroy it like DRC.

    If you don’t think for a second that H.P. didn’t chirp in Ladbrokes ear Tear it Down, Tear It Down you are clueless. One less piece of competition for Hazel Park. And ever since Pinnacle got built and Thoroughbreds back in the area. Hazel Park has done everything in it’s power to bring that track down.

    The HBPA were stupid letting Dan Adkins stall them for a year knowing he’d submit a B.S. petition on his own. But they were warned of that in in July of 09.

    The Minnesota Thoroughbred Horsemen bought Canterbury and re-named it Canterbury Park. They are doing great.


    DRC was destroyed out of vindictiveness on many standpoints.

    And Harness horses cannot go the speed the Thoroughbreds run. They pace & trot and break off stride. T.B.s RACE.

    And I don’t know about you Rag Man. Every single Owner and Trainer who ran at H.P. for the years the runners were there, called that place a bull ring. They didn’t mind being there? They honestly didn’t have a choice. When they built both H.P & DRC it was agreed on that both would run both breeds meets. If you don’t think they weren’t happy when DRC turned solely into a T.B. track in 1985 think again.

    It wasn’t the packing up and moving across town that bothered them, it was going from that open mile that could accommodate 15 horses in the gate WIDE they didn’t want to move from. It’s not just the added distance Pacing Guy & Rag Man it is the width. H.P. cannot even touch what DRC was or Pinnacle is.

    So watching the turns doesn’t even apply. That’s why the distance of 5/8 and a tighter wide is a Bull Ring.

  20. And I Miss DRC?
    Nobody could be this much in sync. LOL

  21. For the record, this will be last comment. It was not my intention to cause such a ruccus and if I did, I apologize.

    What I was trying to discuss, and perhaps done awkwardly, is why does every breed think the other one is out to screw the other. Admittedly, I know little about Michigan’s situation other than all breeds are suffering, basically due to the last Governor’s desires.

    But I do know what is going on in NJ, and while in Michigan you feel it is the thoroughbred interests getting shafted by harness interests, it appears the thoroughbred interests are turning the screws on harness interests and that is shame. Yes, they are different breeds, be they quarterhorse, standardbred or thoroughbred, but they are in the same business gambling.

    I understand Breeders want to sell yearlings, jockeys want to ride, drivers want to drive so there will be some free market competition between the breeds, but it should be done with each industry rising and falling on their own merits and not on the other breed (whichever breed it may be) trying to screw the other one. If Michigan harness interests attempted or are attempting to kill the runners, shame on them and a pox on their house.

    Again, I apologize for raising the anger level here.

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