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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