Category Archives: Pinnacle Race Course

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 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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Five reasons why Michigan’s Thoroughbreds should look west

As of right now, the Thoroughbred racing business in the state of Michigan is an industry without a home track to call its own.

While the clock ticks down to the summer racing season, the state Attorney General’s office is taking its sweet time deliberating on whether Pinnacle Race Course is worthy of its conditional racing license. Meanwhile, any immediate alternative (Mount Pleasant Meadows, one of the state’s three harness tracks) will take time to build up into the kind of facility needed to host a meet of the Thoroughbreds’ caliber. Until a decision is made, it is difficult for the decision-makers in Michigan’s racing industry to pull the trigger on either option.

From this writer’s perspective, Pinnacle is at best a 50-50 proposition for opening its doors in 2011. The Detroit-area track closed down all of its operations at the end of last year’s meet under a mountain of debt from municipalities, tax collectors and simulcast providers. Even the track’s website has been offline for over a month, now. A recent story by Crain’s Detroit Business about a looming job-creation audit by Wayne County only heaps more on the pile.

Perhaps it is too soon to simply give up on Pinnacle as a long-term home for Thoroughbred racing, but with the track’s unstable past, present and future, it is not beyond the realm of possibility to consider an alternative.

On the Michigan-Bred Claimer Facebook page, I asked readers where they thought the 2011 Thoroughbred meet would be held, where they would like to see it held and where the long-term future of racing may rest. When presented with the options currently available, the conversation quickly shifted to building a new track in a centrally located area – Grand Rapids or Lansing. Looking at the current situation, it is not hard to agree.

Clearly, this idea is little more than a pipe dream. Pulling it off would mean convincing another wealthy investor that horse racing in Michigan is worth the risk, which at this point is admittedly a hard sell. This, along with a litany of other factors, would make the idea difficult-to-impossible. The following discussion is strictly hypothetical. However, if done correctly, a move west could help drastically improve the health of the state’s industry.

Another aspect discussed in the Facebook conversation was combining the breeds at said centrally located track. From an exposure standpoint, the harness tracks are doing just fine in Detroit. Keeping them there keeps the simulcast dollars flowing in their area. However, it would not be difficult to transition the Quarter Horses and Arabians to this imaginary track, as well.

Before I continue, I realize this plan flies in the face of my 3,000-word manifesto against the contraction of small tracks, effectively shuttering the two tracks I was trying to defend. Don’t worry, I have a plan.

Pinnacle and the proposed track cancel each other out, so there is no loss there. Mount Pleasant would be gutted with the loss of Quarter Horses and Arabians. However, the track represents the only pari-mutuel outpost in central and northern Michigan, so it is important to keep around. Plus, with the track suddenly much closer, there may be more interest to watch the races via simulcast in Mount Pleasant by those who can not make it to the live races every day, but want to play and keep tabs on the track.

To keep the simulcast going, the new track would split itself into a spring/summer and a fall meet, divided with a short mixed breed meet at Mount Pleasant to coincide with the Isabella County Fair. Mount Pleasant gets exposure at a time when the most patrons are on the property, the simulcast can stay open all year, and there is incentive to keep the track up to code to use as a training center. Damage is minimized and everybody wins.

Want to keep Pinnacle in the mix? Give Pinnacle and the new track each one of those meets, then either give Mount Pleasant back the mixed meet horses to run their usual schedule or keep the county fair plan. That way, Pinnacle can continue to stay in business, it gets some time off to ease the cost of hosting a live meet and perhaps it can finally work on finishing the “Phase Two” construction.

Both Grand Rapids and Lansing are viable and acceptable options for such a venture, but there are a few factors that make the state’s capital city particularly attractive in this scenario. To illustrate this, I have outlined five reasons why a move to Lansing might be in the best interest of flat racing in Michigan.

Keep in mind, this is not a call to shut down any track, but simply a scenario to consider in the wake of current events. It’s always better to have a plan than not.

The five reasons why Michigan should consider a racetrack in the Lansing area can be found behind the jump.

Continue reading

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Valient Tenobob nominated to Triple Crown

Michigan-bred Valient Tenobob is one of 364 early nominees for the prestigious Triple Crown races.

The series for three-year-old Thoroughbreds includes the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs, the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course and the Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.

The dark bay or brown Service Stripe colt is trained by James Jackson for owners Red Riding Hood Stable (George & Chrissy Kutlenios) and Laura Jackson. Valient Tenobob was also bred by James and Laura Jackson.

Valient Tenobob is the first Triple Crown nominee born in Michigan since Hot Chili, another Jackson trainee, was made eligible for the races in 2008.

Valient Tenobob went three-for-three in 2010 for earnings of $48,222.

He broke his maiden on Sept. 4 at Pinnacle Race Course with a five-wide rally to prevail by a length. Valient Tenobob then traveled to West Virginia to follow up with a 2 3/4-length allowance score at Mountaineer.

After that race, Valient Tenobob was nominated to the Oct. 31 Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs, but instead returned to Pinnacle to compete in the Oct. 30 Michigan Futurity. Despite an erratic trip, Valient Tenobob exploded in the stretch to win by seven lengths.

Valient Tenobob has not raced since the Michigan Futurity and, according to Equibase, he has not posted a workout in the last 60 days. Check back for further updates on Valient Tenobob’s journey down the Derby trail.

For a complete list of the 2011 Triple Crown nominees, click here.

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Michigan Notebook: January 19, 2011

– The Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association is hosting its annual Stallion Season Auction on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Bidding will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year’s auction features seasons from some of the best sires Michigan has to offer. Perennial leaders such as Demaloot Demashoot, Elusive Hour, Syncline and the state’s 2010 stallion of the year Equality will have seasons up for bids, along with up-and-comers like Fire Blitz, Comedy Show, Monetary Star and Gainango. The sale also features out-of-state sires from Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Loiusiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

For more information on the auction, and for a constantly updating list of the sires involved, click here.

– The Michigan HBPA board has voted to focus negotiations for the 2011 Thoroughbred meet on Pinnacle Race Course for the time being. From the Michigan HBPA website

The Michigan HBPA board met Tuesday to discuss the 2011 live season, during the meeting the board took a “straw poll” as to what track they preferred to have the 2011 meet. The board moved to prefer Pinnacle and work through the issues until March 1, 2011 and pursue other options at that time, if necessary.

– MTOBA has rolled out a multi-pronged effort to increase its web presence. The organization recently opened up a Facebook fan page and Twitter account to go along with it’s redesigned website. Be sure to include Michigan’s Thoroughbred owners and breeders in your social networking endeavors.

– Voting for the Michigan-Bred Claimer Photo of the Year poll is still open and will remain so through the end of the month. The clubhouse leader is photo #18, titled “Affection”, depicting newly-crowned Horse of the Year Zenyatta and her groom Mario Espinoza in the Churchill Downs shedrow. If you agree with that outcome and want to lock it down, or if you think another photo is more deserving, the cutoff date is sometime during Feb. 1. Don’t get shut out!

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Meadow Vespers voted Michigan’s Thoroughbred of the Decade

Four-time Sire Stakes winner Meadow Vespers took 39.76% of the vote to earn Michigan's Thoroughbred of the Decade title.

The readers of The Michigan-Bred Claimer have voted Meadow Vespers Michigan’s Thoroughbred of the Decade, from 2000-2010.

The nine-year-old Meadow Prayer gelding drew 33 of 83 total votes (39.76%) to hold off second place finisher Tenpins for the top spot. Full results from the poll can be found at the end of the post.

Meadow Vespers is campaigned by owner John Mack and trainer Richard Rettele. He was bred in Michigan by James Arnold, Marcia Arnold and Deb Miley.

One of his barn’s stars for over a half decade, Rettele listed Meadow Vespers among the best horses he has trained.

“He’s sound, tough and has longevity,” Rettele said. “He’s good to train and goes to race. That’s the kind you need.”

Meadow Vespers won 13 of 42 career starts for earnings of $489,066. Five of those victories came in stakes company, along with nine other stakes placings. He is Michigan’s ninth leading male by lifetime earnings.

Meadow Vespers’ racing career often mirrored his running style – A slow build-up to a big finish.

The gelding’s late kick often led to minor awards in early-season stakes races, but became dialed in as the season, and the race distances, grew longer. Prior to the 2009 season, Meadow Vespers’ only stakes wins came in the longest blacktype contests at the end of Michigan’s racing calendar, the Sire Stakes.

After one start as a two-year-old, Meadow Vespers’ run of Sire Stakes victories began in 2005, when he won the three-year-old males division of the race at Great Lakes Downs. That victory, along with on-the-board finishes in the Dowling and Spartan Stakes, helped secure his division’s title for the year.

Meadow Vespers stepped up into older competition the next year and won that division’s race twice before Great Lakes Downs was closed in 2007. However, year-end awards eluded him both times.

In 2008, Meadow Vespers showed he could translate his success on GLD’s five-furlong track to a mile oval with an award-winning inaugural campaign at Pinnacle Race Course. His fourth straight Sire Stakes triumph, and three other in-the-money stakes efforts, helped wrap up Michigan’s older male title.

Meadow Vespers had another solid year in 2009 and even notched his first non-Sire Stakes blacktype win; a rallying half-length score in the Michigan Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Pinnacle. However, his signature late move could not overcome traffic problems in the Sire Stakes, and his streak was snapped with a fifth place finish.

Despite showing some flashes in 2010, including a half length runner-up finish in the Frontier Handicap and a valiant effort against graded stakes-level competition in a Hoosier Park allowance, Meadow Vespers failed to find his timing last year and again finished off the board in the Sire Stakes.

Most horses spend their entire careers trying to hit in just one big spot, and most never get there. Meadow Vespers made hitting in the big spot an annual event. In an industry where many horses that show success are quickly retired, even geldings, there is something to be said for a horse that manages to compete at a consistent stakes level over a seven-year racing career.

Thanks to his longevity, lethal closing kick and status as Michigan’s alpha male for the latter half of the 2000s, Meadow Vespers is Michigan’s Thoroughbred of the Decade.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Here are the full results for Michigan’s Thoroughbred of the Decade poll. Thanks to everyone who voted and commented on the poll, and to everyone who campaigned the horses that showed off the best Michigan has to offer.

To view the original post with information on each entry, click here.

TOTAL: 83 Votes

1. Meadow Vespers – 33 Votes (39.76%)
2. Tenpins – 23 Votes (27.71%)
3. Secret Romeo – 8 Votes (9.64%)
4. Cashier’s Dream – 5 Votes (6.02%)
5. Valley Loot – 4 Votes (4.82%)
6. Born To Dance – 3 Votes (3.61%)
T7. Rockem Sockem – 2 Votes (2.41%)
T7. Weatherstorm – 2 Votes (2.41%)
T9. Sefa’s Rose – 1 Vote (1.2%)
T9. That Gift – 1 Vote (1.2%)
T9. Other (Starlit Hour) – 1 Vote (1.2%)

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Michigan HBPA to consider Thoroughbred meet at Mount Pleasant Meadows

Mixed breed track Mount Pleasant Meadows could play host to Michigan's Thoroughbred meet in 2011.

The Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association intends to “pursue the possibility” of conducting its 2011 Thoroughbred meet at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

From the Michigan HBPA website

HBPA BOARD LOOKS TO 2011 SEASON: With the 2011 live racing season at Pinnacle Race Course looking more dismal everyday, the Michigan HBPA Board of Directors approved a motion, during a Dec. 29 conference call, to pursue the possibility of racing at Mt. Pleasant Meadows during the 2011 season. The board feels it very important to attempt pursuing the issue now, rather than being faced with the same circumstances that faced our horsemen last spring, when Pinnacle did not open for training, as provided in our contract.

Of course, there are many questions that need to be answered, but the possibility needs to be addressed now.

Mount Pleasant Meadows is a mixed breed track in central Michigan. While it plays host to Thoroughbred racing at its lower levels, along with Quarter Horses and Arabians, the track has never hosted a meet of this caliber.

Mt. Pleasant is a four furlong sandy loam oval with a six furlong chute for quarter horse races. The grandstand consists largely of aluminum bleachers, which are plentiful and offer adequate sight lines, with a few reserved sections for tables. It was built to host various county fair-related events on top of racing; including demolition derbies, rodeos and concerts.

Located on the Isabella County Fairgrounds north of Mount Pleasant, the track became a home for pari-mutuel racing in 1985 after previously serving as a fair circuit track. The move was also done to help replace racing lost by the shuttering of Glendale Downs in southern Michigan, which offered a similar level of racing.

Any updates on this story will be posted as they become available.

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