Tag Archives: Northville Downs

Michigan Gaming Control Board releases 2010 report

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has released its annual report to the Governor regarding horse racing in the state.

The report examines the wagering-related revenues and tax money generated by each of the state’s five racetracks, as well as a very basic overview of the Gaming Board’s horse racing activities, revenues and expenditures.

To read the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s 2010 report on horse racing, click here.

As time allows, I will be analyzing the trends in Michigan racing over the last decade, based on information provided by the state’s annual reports. Subjects will include statewide figures, Thoroughbred racing, Mount Pleasant Meadows, and perhaps the harness tracks.

Until then, feel free to discuss your thoughts on the latest report.

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Michigan Gaming Control Board approves 2011 racing dates

The Michigan Gaming Control Board recently approved the 2011 racing schedules for Michigan’s five pari-mutuel racetracks.

The schedules are significantly larger than those run in 2010, but as it has been proven in previous years, these dates are far from written in stone and are subject to change at a moment’s notice. Any modifications in the flat racing schedules will be reported as they become official.

The Michigan HBPA website reports the dates for Pinnacle Race Course…

The Executive Director [Richard Kalm] has determined and concluded that the applicant complies with the standards and the requirements for granting a race meeting license and simulcast permit under the Act and Administrative Rules.” The order indicated that the licensee is subject terms and conditions.

84 race days approved: Begins May 27, 2011 through October 29,2011.

– 3 days a week Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from May 27 through June 25
– 4 days a week Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays June 28 through October 29

From the Mount Pleasant Meadows Facebook page

Mount Pleasant Meadows has been granted a total of 23 Mixed Breed race dates, from Saturday, May 14, 2011 through Sunday, August 21, 2011;

– One day per week, Saturdays, from Saturday, May 14, 2011 through Saturday, June 4, 2011;
– Two days per week, Saturdays and Sundays, from Saturday, June 11, 2011 through Sunday, August, 21, 2011;
– No racing on August 7, August 13 and August 14, 2011.”

The Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association reports the schedules for the state’s three Standardbred racetracks…

Hazel Park (50 dates)
Friday May 6, 2011 through Saturday August 27, 2011
(Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays)

Sports Creek (33 dates)
Saturday January 1, 2011 through Sunday February 6, 2011
(Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) 17 dates

Friday November 25, 2011 through Saturday December 31, 2011
(Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) 16 dates

Northville Downs (24 dates)
Friday February 11, 2011 through Saturday April 30, 2011
(Fridays and Saturdays)

Northville Racing Corporation (24 dates)
Friday September 2, 2011 through Saturday November 19, 2011
(Fridays and Saturdays)

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Michigan Notebook: March 8, 2010

Michigan-based jockey T.D. Houghton has not been allowed to ride at several racetracks since his involvement in a still-pending investigation was announced in 2007.

Michigan-based jockey T.D. Houghton has not been allowed to ride at several tracks since his involvement in a still-pending investigation was announced in 2006.

– When it comes to bad news in Michigan, the hits just keep coming. Various news sources report over 30 people are being investigated by the Michigan State Police and Michigan Gaming Control Board for alleged race-fixing schemes at harness racetracks in Michigan and Ontario. According to the Associated Press, the management at Michigan tracks Hazel Park Raceway, Northville Downs and Sports Creek Raceway are not being accused of any wrongdoing and are cooperating with the investigation. The Flint Journal reports the investigation has been ongoing for about 11 months.

UPDATE: It seems this story has garnered some national exposure. ESPN’s Bill Finley has commented on the situation on the sports network’s website. In the piece, Finley suggests the pools at Michigan’s harness tracks are too small for any sensible race fixer to bother with. He also questions if authorities, who don’t know enough about the intricacies of the sport, are too gung-ho in approaching this situation and predicts little will come of it.

Hat tip to Longshot for sniffing out the ESPN story.

– Jockey T.D. Houghton, who grew up in Hazel Park, has been grabbing headlines following the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s Feb. 25 deferment of his request to ride in the state. His primary reason for applying was to ride at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.. Houghton has been denied access to ride at several tracks across the country after he was named in a race-fixing investigation in 2006 involving seven riders at Great Lakes Downs and Tampa Bay Downs. For more information, an article by Thoroughbred Times can be read here and the Blood Horse’s take can be found here.

– In a bit of lighter news, I was quoted last week in a piece on ESPN.com by Claire Novak. The blog post addressed recent suggestions by Vic Zast and Paul Moran to “dumb down” horse racing to appeal to today’s ADD-riddled youth. As one of many contrarian examples, I discuss how social media may actually make understanding the sport easier for young people with short attention spans. Be sure to check out Novak’s work, as she is the best turf writer in the country under the age of 25 – and that’s including myself, so you know she’s got to be good.

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Gaming Control Board slashes Michigan racing dates

The Michigan HBPA website reports…

MICHIGAN GAMING AND CONTROL BOARD MEETS WITH INDUSTRY: On Wednesday, March 3, 2010 the MGCB indicated the number of race days that will be reduced for the balance of the 2009-10 fiscal year due to budget cuts. Attendees were told that the approved dates of 261 for racetracks will be reduced to 112 or 57%.

Pinnacle Race Course days reduced for the 2009-10 fiscal year ending September 30, 2010 are 34(52%) leaving 31 race days from June 4 to August 13…Friday, Saturday and Monday. At this point, no racing between Aug 14 to Sept. 30, 2010.

Efforts are underway to challenge the cut and amount stated as cost per to regulate a live race day by ORC staff. More details will be made available as soon as possible.

UPDATE: The Michigan Gaming Control Board has come out with a slideshow outlining the changes in race dates for each track and the fiscal reasons for the announcement. For those of you too busy to peruse the presentation (though I suggest you do it anyway), it shows downward trend after downward trend in race dates, handle and governmental “give-a-damn” followed by an execution-style bullet to the back of the head in the form of massive cuts in race dates.

Here is the breakdown of the cutbacks by track…

Pinnacle Race Course
Before (Dates initially allotted): 84 days –  June 4 to September 30
After: 31 days – June 4 to August 13
Change: -53 days

Mount Pleasant Meadows
Before: 23 days – May 15 to September 25
After: 11 days – June 6 to August 29
Change: -12 days

Hazel Park Raceway
Before: 61 days – April 30 to August 6
After: 29 days – April 30 to September 18
Change: -32 days

Northville Downs
Before: 18 days – February 12 to April 24
After: 11 days – March 5 to March 27 (some dates have already been run)
Change: -7 days

Sports Creek Raceway

Sports Creek has already conducted all of its race dates for the 2010 fiscal year and will not be affected by the Gaming Control Board’s announcement.

Clearly, this is bad news, but Michigan has been in this spot before. That said, if this goes through as it was drawn up, it is hard to imagine this year being anything less than devastating to the state’s racing industry. Check back for updates as more information becomes known.

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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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Longtime Michigan-based announcer Jack Riggs dies

Jack Riggs, a familiar voice to Detroit-area racegoers for most of his 50+ year announcing career, died Friday, Feb. 6 in Englewood, Florida. He was 79.

Riggs called Thoroughbred, harness and Greyhound races in seven states and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In Michigan, he took the announcer’s post at Hazel Park Harness Raceway, Northville Downs and the defunct Detroit Race Course.

His racetrack announcing career began at Gulfstream Park at the age of 19. After taking time off to serve in the Navy during the Korean War, Riggs returned to the Hallandale Beach, Florida racetrack.

In the 1950s, Riggs played a key role in the first TV show broadcast from a Michigan racetrack. He was later part of the nightly replay shows from Hazel Park and Northville Downs.

Aside from his announcing duties, Riggs made appearances on TV and radio for many of the major networks, including ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

In 2003, Riggs retired from announcing and moved with his wife, Nancy, to Englewood.

Riggs was an honorary lifetime member of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association, the highest individual honor the organization awards. He was also given the Appreciation Award from the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association for his lifetime of service.  

A memorial service will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 508 Rivers Street, Venice, FL at 11:00 a.m. on March 27, 2009.

Sources: 
Harnessracing.com 
United States Trotting Association
Detroit Free Press

Thanks to Jeff Klenner for sending the information.

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