– A story in Monday’s Oakland Press features Hazel Park CEO Dan Adkins and the petition he and his group, Racing to Save Michigan, are spearheading to implement casino gaming into the state’s five racetracks. The story highlights the additions Hazel Park made in 2004 after State Congress approved slots at the track. However, the structure was never finished after Gov. Jennifer Granholm failed to sign the bill into law. The restrictions set in place by Proposal 1 of 2004 further sealed the building’s fate.
Progress with the petition has been hampered by a lack of support from the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association. The HBPA website cites the petition’s lack of provisions for live racing, simulcasting, purse revenue and horsemen’s organizations for its refusal to endorse the plan in its current form. Negotiations over the language of the petition have been ongoing between Adkins’ group and the horsemen’s organizations, but according to the HBPA’s site nothing has been finalized.
– A six horse crash Saturday night at Sports Creek Raceway made the local news. WJRT-ABC 12 reports the crash occurred when the lead horse in a race at the Swartz Creek harness track fell to the ground. Horses and drivers then began to pile up as they tried to avoid the fallen leader.
Two drivers were taken to the hospital following the accident. According to the MHHA website, driver Larry Lake suffered a shoulder injury that will require surgery, but he was released Sunday morning. Keith Crawford was placed in intensive care, but is expected to be released in the near future, if he is not out already. Amazingly, it was reported none of the horses were seriously injured, and only one was “slightly hurt”.
To view the news feature, including footage of the crash (no fatalities, but still not for the faint of heart), click here.
– For those of you curious about the demolition progress of defunct Muskegon racetrack Great Lakes Downs (or, like me, just need closure), a citizen of the Internet took several pictures of the scene while taking in the decay of her former community. The photos, interspersed with other shots of the area can be found here.
– Consider this your one-week warning to vote for the Michigan-Bred Claimer 2009 Photo of the Year before the poll closes up. Photo #9, “Caged Animal”, enjoyed a burst in popularity and holds a comfortable lead. If you feel another photo is more deserving of the title, this is your last chance to do something about it. If that photo is your favorite, make sure it closes strong. Either way, you’ve got a week to decide.
Michigan Notebook: April 30, 2009
Lots of goings on in Michigan racing this week…
– From the Michigan HBPA:
* I inserted the link to my post listing the contact information of the House Ag Appropriations Committee members. If you want to send along the form letters or write your own personal message, there is still time, but be quick abut it.
Also, the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association is organizing a “Horseman’s Rally” prior to the hearing. Interested parties should be at the State Capitol building on the corner of Capitol and Allegan in Lansing at 9 a.m. Here is the information from the MHHA website.
If everything goes to plan, I intend to be at this hearing and will report back if anything significant comes from it. Also, be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter feed or check out the Claim Box on the right side of the page next Thursday for live updates.
– Pinnacle Race Course recently released its stakes schedule for the 2009 meet. For a pdf of the schedule, click here.
Here’s what I like and don’t like about what I see…
What I like is Pinnacle’s decision to package several of its stakes races together to give itself some marketable days of racing. If Pinnacle follows through and properly advertises these days and/or gives them killer promotions, it could lead to a nice boost in attendance and handle. One of the popular ideas to revive public interest in the racing product is to put out more “big race days.” With this, Pinnacle is taking a step in the right direction.
What I don’t like are the estimated purses for the Michigan Sire Stakes, the state’s marquee series of races for Michigan-sired horses. Two years ago, the Sire Stakes races were good for $120,000 a piece for each of the six divisions. This year, they’re slated to offer $50,000, blacktype races by the skin of their teeth and no bigger than any other race on the stakes calendar.
Because the Sire Stakes purses are partially funded by the state, the final purses could fluctuate depending on how things go with the budget situation. Either way, the fact that purses this low are even in the discussion is an unsettling notion.
As I have noted several times in the past, the worst thing a new track can do is give people a reason to leave, be it fans or horsemen. Indiana’s purses are going to grow. Pennsylvania’s are already massive. It was already getting harder and harder to justify sticking around before the potential cut in the state’s biggest races. This could make it that much harder. While the dire status of the Sire Stakes purses is not entirely the fault of Pinnacle Race Course, it will be the track that suffers because of it.
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Filed under Commentary, Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics
Tagged as Horsemen's Rally, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association, Michigan HBPA, Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pinnacle Race Course, Sire Stakes, Stakes Races