Tag Archives: Blood Horse

Adkins, horsemen’s groups trade blows in media

Arguably the most controversial issue facing Michigan’s racing industry is the petition penned by Hazel Park Raceway CEO Dan Adkins seeking to place casinos at the state’s five pari-mutuel racetracks and three additional sites.

The petition has been met with opposition from the state’s horsemen’s groups from both the harness and Thoroughbred worlds, who claim the petition lacks provisions for purse structure in live racing.

Here is the latest from the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association website

HBPA/MHHA MEET: HBPA group and the MHHA met Thurs. Feb. 11 to discuss the current status and an alternative racino and casino petition that will provide provisions for live racing, simulcasting, purse distribution, as well as, CHO protection. Both organizations understand the importance of time, after some research it was determined that the Board of Canvassers may review  a petition request between 14 and 17 days. One important segment of a petition is, of course, purse revenue. The current petition only provides for purse revenue from the state tax. As we all know, we have not had much support from the state for our industry, substantiating our concerns.

The two sides have each stated their case to The Blood-Horse.

Michigan HBPA Executive Director Gary Tinkle was interviewed for a Feb. 9 story by Esther Marr. Though Tinkle said he and the horsemen’s groups want to support the petition, he told Marr that in its current form, the petition would “place the industry’s future in jeopardy”…

“We feel very strongly that (this petition) is using the tracks as a conduit but with no provisions (for racing),” Tinkle said. “Adkins said he’s willing to go ahead with the (bill) alone. It’s hard for us to understand why he would do that. The takeouts (proposed) by the horsemen are completely reasonable.

“I would hate for this legislation not to pass, but if it does pass in its current form, it would be a ticking time bomb for the (Thoroughbred) industry. And the enabling legislation—that’s the real elephant in the room.”

– Blood-Horse

Adkins gave his rebuttal on Feb. 11. In the story, also written by Marr, he called the lack of support “suicidal” and noted how little the state’s 23 existing casinos pay to the state compared the projected figures of the proposed racinos…

“I met with the Thoroughbred and harness horsemen over a year and a half ago and told them I was putting this together, and nobody showed any interest,” said Adkins, who noted that even Pinnacle Race Course owner/developer Jerry Campbell had failed to give a real response to the proposal.

“So I put it together the best I could, and once I got it approved, everybody showed up,” Adkins said. “Gary Tinkle says there’s nothing in (the petition) for the horsemen, and that’s not true. The initiative that I put together requires the state to take a share of its revenue and put it back into the programs related to horse breeding and racing.”

– Blood-Horse

The blogosphere has also chimed in regarding the situation. Reactions have ranged from concerned to very concerned.

Clearly, this is a very complicated subject. Whenever money and politics are involved, it is foolish to assume anything will go smoothly. Hopefully the two sides can reach some semblance of common ground before things get out of hand, be that a failure to collect enough signatures or a divided proposal on the ballot. No matter what form of the petition is put up to the plate, it will be faced with crippling resistance by interests with truckloads of money. If the industry approaches this issue on a divided front, the result won’t be pretty.

The fact that the two sides are slinging mud at each other through the media is an embarrassment. It does not reflect well on Michigan’s racing industry for such infighting to be aired out publicly, and it will not help public support if some version of the petition makes it to November’s ballot. Regardless of who is right or wrong, a middle ground must be reached between Adkins and the horsemen, because we have one hell of a fight coming up this fall.

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ORC approves Pinnacle’s 2010 schedule

From the Michigan HBPA website…

2010 RACE DATES ISSUED: Commissioner Lockwood approved the following dates for  Pinnacle Race Course’s 2010 season at 84 days.

June 4 – June 27 Friday, Saturday and Sunday

June 29- October 31 Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday

The 84 race dates approved by the Office of Racing Commissioner is an increase of 12 days from the 72 live dates conducted by the New Boston track in 2009. Pinnacle was originally scheduled for 83 dates in 2009, but cuts to the ORC by Gov. Jennifer Granholm prior to the start of the meet forced the track to cut dates and use the purse money to fund the regulatory organization.

For more information on the approved dates, as well as quotes from trainer Bob Gorham and HBPA Executive Director Gary Tinkle, a Blood Horse story can be found here.

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Media attention

Slowly but surely, the news of the proposed catastrophic cut to race dates in Michigan is starting to spread throughout the local media outlets. 

Official word has been pretty quiet as of late from the horsemen’s groups as to the status of negotiations except to say they are still working to restore most, if not all, of the race dates. Fortunately, the original Friday deadline for the Racing Commissioner to submit her plan to the Governor has been extended to try to work things out.

Until then, here are a few more stories that have caught my attention regarding the issue. If anyone should find any other good stories, feel free to mention them or post a link in a comment and I’ll put it up on this post.

Pinnacle Race Course owner Jerry Campbell took to the airwaves again yesterday, this time speaking to radio host Paul W. Smith. One thing I like about Campbell is he’s great at making analogies that can make situations like this easy to understand for those not familiar with the industry. Definitely worth a listen. Click here to go to the webpage, or click here to download the interview.

The latest from the Blood Horse 

A quick NPR brief
– Featuring Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association General Manager Daniel Rakieten.

An uninspired AP story published in the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun
– The fact that the Morning Sun picked up this cookie cutter story off the wire (which, despite the title and lead’s suggestion, isn’t at all about Mount Pleasant Meadows) when the track is just a few miles up the road just gives further ammunition to the argument that local newspapers are no longer relevant and it’s their own damn fault…but that’s another rant for another day.

A much better locally done Morning Sun story
–  Perhaps someone at The Morning Sun reads this thing. Consider my big mouth shut. On a peculiar note, the photos for this story were taken last Sunday before news of the cuts came out. I wonder what their initial intentions were?

Don’t forget, Mount Pleasant’s Spring Fling is tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

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Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

Rave Reviews?

Alright, everyone who picked Mine That Bird to win the Kentucky Derby for a reason other than his name, number, silks color or Canadian background, raise your hand.

Liars.

You and I both know we wouldn’t have touted Mine That Bird to our worst enemy.

He was a Polytrack horse, and a Canadian one at that. He got butchered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, finishing last by a mile. His only significant win was a Grade 3 at Woodbine – AT TWO. He couldn’t even muster up the athletic capabilities to hit the board in an ungraded stakes race at Sunland Park. Mine That Bird would have been a hard sell for a show wager in the Lone Star Derby, much less the highest-profile three-year old race in the world.

But here we are.

Looking through the sea of pre-race predictions, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who put Mine That Bird in their top 15 out of the pre-scratch field of 20, much less in a spot of serious contention. I’ve seen more optimistic forecasts in a Chrysler exec’s stock portfolio. 

As a testament to just how out of left field this outcome was, I have compiled some of the more colorful predictions of Mine That Bird’s Derby chances from some of the biggest names and publications in Turf Writing. The results weren’t optimistic.

Because I’m a good sport, I’ll start with my own fearless prediction…

#8 – Mine That Bird
Made bank in Loonies
No graded starts in ’09
Avoid at all costs

Consider the foot firmly planted in the mouth.

Here is what the rest of the Turf Writing community had to say about the Kentucky Derby winner in their pre-race analysis. Just to keep it fair, I limited my search to professional writers and handicappers. These are the people who get paid for their opinions, so one would speculate they would be held in a higher regard. Just imagine seeing some of these clips in a stallion ad if Mine That Bird hadn’t been gelded.

“Save your money”
– Tom Pedulla, USA Today 

Best quality: “Photographs well”
– Jay Cronley, ESPN 

“Highest Beyer speed figure (81) isn’t even close to making him a contender. Has shown some speed in the past, but it probably won’t last for long.”
– Jason Shandler, Blood Horse

“Off career-best Beyers, he’s got about 23 lengths to make up. Hey, no problem.”
– Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form

Fair odds: “399-1”
– Ed DeRosa, Thoroughbred Times

Odds to finish last: “7-1,” the lowest odds in the field. (By the way, actual last-place finisher Flying Private was set at 9-1)
– Bodog.com 

“We can’t see it, even with Calvin Borel in the irons.”
– BrisNet Editorial

“Too slow to be a factor.”
– Justin Dew, KentuckyDerby.com 

“Mind That Bird (sic) has simply run much too slow in all eight races to think that he can compete against this type of opposition.”
– “The Wizard,” BrisNet 

ESPN’s Jeremy Plonk listed Mine That Bird among his “Toss-outs,” but was more optimistic about his chances than most…

“Canada’s champion last year was last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has not improved enough this spring to make you think he can cash a check Saturday. But he’s a hard-trying horse and probably will out-finish one or two horses that will surprise you.”

So what’s the moral of the story? Never underestimate the longshot? Nope. Be nice to everyone because you never know who is going to hit it big? ‘Fraid not. Never EVER give Calvin Borel a clean look at the rail? Tempting, but no.

The lesson here is the betting machines have an “all” button for a reason.

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