Tag Archives: Michigan Office of Racing Commissioner

Michigan Office of Racing Commissioner merges with Gaming Control Board

From the Michigan Gaming Control Board website:

Effective January 17, 2010, the Office of Racing Commissioner (ORC) was transferred to the Michigan Gaming Control Board by Governor’s Executive Order 2009-45. The ORC remains mandated to promote the safety, security, growth and integrity of all horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering on the results of horse races, and simulcasting conducted at licensed race meetings within Michigan.

As part of the Governor’s initiative to merge these two agencies, you will find all information concerning Michigan Horse Racing on the Michigan Gaming Control Board web page as a new part of the Michigan Gaming Control Board agency.

From this announcement, and the new “Horse Racing” section of the Gaming Board’s website, it appears the ORC will remain largely intact, but under a new umbrella. This is contrary to initial speculation suggesting the Gaming Control Board would regulate the racing industry using its own staff.

It remains to be seen if and how this will affect horsemen and the day-to-day operations at the state’s five racetracks. New developments will be posted if and when they become available.

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The clock is ticking

Patriotic Bill became the first horse with a previous start at Mount Pleasant Meadows to win a race at the newly reopened Hialeah Park.

First off, congratulations to Quarter Horse Patriotic Bill for being the first horse to win a race at Hialeah Park coming off a start at Mount Pleasant Meadows. The Florida-bred Game Patriot gelding gained the late advantage and won Tuesday’s fifth race by 3/4 lengths. For a chart of the race, click here.

As you may recall, Patriotic Bill’s previous start was over a year ago in a blowout match race victory against Striking Lucy – a beautiful paint without a lick of run in her. He was later disqualified, but not before the race was made official and payouts were made. To relive this memorable race, the chart can be read here.

Another horse with a start at Mount Pleasant, Bye Bye Cartel, also picked up a win on Tuesday’s card. The Southern Cartel colt finished fourth in a stakes race during his lone stop in Michigan earlier this year. On Tuesday, he took the seventh race at Hialeah by a length as the 1.30-to-one favorite. The chart for Tuesday’s race can be found here.

In more pressing news, it appears the deadline to halt Michigan racing’s move to a new regulator is rapidly drawing near. According to this bill analysis document, the Michigan Legislature has until Thursday, Dec. 7 to disapprove Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s Oct. 8 Executive Order which, among many other things, dissolves the Office of Racing Commissioner. The order also moves control of the industry’s regulatory and financial undertakings under the umbrella of the Gaming Control Board.

According to the linked document, there is a series of bills in the Senate to place control of the industry in the hands of the Michigan Department of Agriculture. In the proposed bill, the MDA Director would essentially become the new racing commissioner.

Michigan’s racing industry groups have been pushing to remain under the MDA, which already distributes funding to racing programs through the Ag Equine Development Fund. Proponents of staying with the MDA argue the racing industry has more significant ties to agriculture, through the feeding, care and maintenance of horses and farms, than it does to the gaming at the racetracks. It is also argued that the MDA is better equipped to promote the racing industry (which desperately needs it), whereas the Gaming Control Board is primarily a regulatory body.

From the looks of the bills’ pages (955, 956, 957, 958), they have been sitting in committee purgatory since mid-November, so it may be an uphill battle to get them through both the Senate and House of Representatives before the Dec. 7 deadline. Then again, State Congress has shown in the past that it can get things done when it focuses on the task at hand.

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ORC releases 2010 racing schedule

Mount Pleasant Meadows is scheduled to host 23 live dates during the 2010 race meet. Christmas From Mom drives to the finish under jockey Juan Delgado.

The Michigan Office of Racing Commissioner officially released the racing schedules for the state’s five pari-mutuel tracks on Monday.

In total, Michigan will host 261 days of live racing at Thoroughbred track Pinnacle Race Course, mixed breed track Mount Pleasant Meadows, and harness tracks Hazel Park Raceway, Northville Downs and Sports Creek Raceway.

As previously reported by the Michigan HBPA, Pinnacle Race Course will feature 84 days of live racing in 2010. The New Boston racetrack will begin its meet on June 4 and will host live cards on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until June 27, at which point it will add Tuesdays to its schedule until the end of the season on Oct. 31. If the dates remain unaffected, the track will host 12 more race dates than this year’s 72-day meet, which was shortened to help make up for cuts in funding to the ORC. Pinnacle was originally scheduled for 83 days in 2009 prior to the cuts.

Mount Pleasant Meadows will host 23 live dates next year. Opening day is scheduled for May 15. The mixed breed track will race primarily on Saturdays until closing day Sept. 25. Mount Pleasant will also host live cards on Sundays during the following days: Aug. 1, Aug. 22, Sept. 5 and Sept. 12. The track will take a week off on Aug. 14, likely to allow the Isabella County Fair to use the facilities. Mount Pleasant was originally approved for 37 days in 2009, but its schedule was cut down to 18 days in order for ORC employees to be present for live racing at both Pinnacle and Mount Pleasant following a series of layoffs.

Hazel Park Raceway is scheduled for 61 live dates from April 30 to Sept. 18. Live racing will be held on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Northville Downs’ 18-day winter/spring meet will begin Feb. 12 and conclude April 24. Live racing picks back up for 15 live dates Sept. 23 and goes through Nov. 20. During both meets, Northville will be live on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Sports Creek Raceway will continue with 18 days of racing from Jan. 1 to Feb. 7. The track’s fall meeting will begin on Nov. 26 and conclude on Dec. 31. Sports Creek will race Fridays, Satudrays and Sundays, except for a live day on Monday, Dec. 27. No live racing will be held on Dec. 24 or 25.

For an ABC 12 news feature on Sports Creek Raceway’s upcoming meet, click here.

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Pontiac Silverdome sold…Or is it?

The Daily Tribune (Oakland County) and Michigan Messenger report Adreas Apostolopoulos, a Toronto-based businessman representing Triple Properties Inc., purchased the Pontiac Silverdome in a Monday auction.

The City of Pontiac sold the former home of the National Football League’s Detroit Lions for the winning bid of $583,000. The group has 45 days to close the deal. Future plans for the Silverdome involve using the venue for men’s and women’s professional soccer franchises. Indoor professional soccer is still more watchable than the Lions.

The Tribune reports the city has turned down bids between $17 million and $22 million in the past. Quite the drop from there to just over a half-million.

What does any of this have to do with horse racing you may ask?

The Silverdome’s connection to the racing industry is twofold.

First, the construction and repair of the Silverdome was partially bankrolled by a subsidy from the Michigan Agriculture Equine Development Fund, the source of the state’s racing industry development programs including breeder’s awards and Sire Stakes purses. The fund provided $800,000 per year from 1974 to 1990, then $726,400 in 1991 before the subsidy was discontinued by the state.

Using these figures, the racing industry kicked in approximately $13,526,400 over the 17 years of the subsidy to build and maintain the Silverdome. The funding was ended when it was decided the money was going toward operational expenses instead of building costs.

The second connection may also end up being the reason the Silverdome won’t be hosting soccer games anytime soon.

Crain’s Detroit Business reports an Oakland County judge has ordered an injunction halting the sale to the Toronto group because another party claims to already have an agreement in place with the city.

Civil rights attorney H. Wallace Parker, also president and CEO of Silver Stallion Development Corp., filed the complaint leading to the injunction on the grounds the sale violated a prior agreement with the city to purchase the property.

The Pontiac City Council approved the purchase of the Silverdome by Silver Stallion Development in July 2008 for $20 million, later reduced to $17 million. However, the purchase was vetoed by the city’s mayor when he deemed Parker unable to pay for he project – a claim Parker denies, though Crain’s reports he never produced the money to pay for the bid.

According to Crain’s, Parker intended to develop the area into a $250 million entertainment venue, Thoroughbred racetrack and equine research facility. Silver Stallion Development applied for race dates at the Silverdome with the Office of Racing Commissioner for 2009, but the request was denied. It is unclear whether the proposed racetrack would involve leveling the Silverdome itself, but it is hard to imagine racing going on inside the structure.

Regardless of the outcome, it is fascinating to see how the racing industry touches businesses far away from the racetrack.

UPDATE: Here is another informative article from the Michigan Messenger on the Silverdome auction, identifying the winning bidder and and offering further information on the key players in this story. Apparently someone wanted to buy the property to use as a landfill(!).

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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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State Congress pushes racing funding bill through in the nick of time

Good news from the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association website:

Your efforts have helped a great deal!  Our bill has changed to HB4311 and has passed the Senate!  As of 2:37 p.m. the bill was concurred with in the House.  It now moves to the Governor for her signature.  We have been notified that the Governor intends to sign this bill the morning of 11/6/09.  The ORC office was contacted this afternoon by the Governor’s office and instructed to report for work tomorrow, 11/6/09.

Prior to the Legislature’s rapid action to approve the funding, all live and simulcast racing in the state of Michigan was scheduled to shut down indefinitely at midnight tonight.

HB4311 was initially a bill to fund correctional services, scholarships and election reform projects. It appears the racing-related items were added on along with funding for community health programs, wetland protection and can & bottle return fraud protection.

The bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 32-2 with with three abstentions. It then went back to the House where it was approved by a 91-12 margin with seven not voting. Click the links to see the roll call votes from each chamber.

In the midst of the shift over to the new bill, the Senate also modified the amount of funding to the three racing-related line items. The Office of Racing Commissioner and Producer Security (Grain Elevators) line items saw a decrease, while the Horse Racing Indusrty Programs line saw increased funds.

For a spreadsheet detailing the changes in funding between the  bills, click here.

For more information on HB4311, click here.

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House passes ORC, industry funding bill

The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to partially restore funding to the state’s racing industry, including $2.5 million to the Office of Racing Commissioner.

The bill will next be put before the Senate where, if approved, it will likely do away with the announced statewide halt on live and simulcast racing on Nov. 5.

The deadline was announced following Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s veto of a previous bill to fund the ORC through licensing fees from the three non-tribal casinos in Detroit. In the current bill, the funding will come from the Ag Equine Fund, supported by a 3.5% tax on simulcast wagering and other racetrack-related income. The Associated Press reports Granholm supports the change.

Other items restored by the bill include $3.9 million to industry programs such as purse supplements, Sire Stakes purses and breeders’ awards. An additional $989,500 was allotted to “Horse Racing and Producer Security”, which supports the grain elevator industry and its suppliers.

HB 4288 passed by a margin of 105-1. For more information on the vote, click here.

According to the Michigan HBPA website, the Senate will have its first opportunity to act on the bill on Nov. 3, following a required five-day period between chamber actions.

For analysis of the bill from the House Fiscal Agency, click here.

For more information on HB 4288 and to track its progress through Lansing, the bill’s webpage can be found here.

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