Tag Archives: Race Dates

It’s On: Mount Pleasant Meadows approved for 2011 meet

After almost a year of uncertainty, Mount Pleasant Meadows will kick off its 2011 live meet this weekend.

Mount Pleasant Meadows has met the requirements set by the Michigan Gaming Control Board and will conduct a live meet in 2011.

The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon, before the races drew for the Sunday, July 24 opening card. Saturday’s races were canceled after entries were ordered by the state to cease Tuesday morning.

To make up for the cancelled day, some of the races from Saturday’s card were combined with Sunday’s to produce the opening program. A total of 82 horses were entered in the day’s 12 races – 11 Thoroughbred and one Quarter Horse.

Here is the revised schedule from the Michigan HBPA website…

Sunday Post Time 1pm

2011 Amended race dates:
Sunday July 24 and 31
Sunday August 14 (County Fair no racing 6th, 7th  or 13th)
Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21
Saturday August 27 and Sunday August 28
Saturday Sept. 3, Sunday Sept. 4 and Monday Sept. 5
Saturday Sept. 10, Sunday Sept. 11
Saturday Sept. 17, Sunday Sept. 18
Saturday Sept. 24, Sunday Sept. 25
Saturday Oct. 1, Sunday Oct. 2
Saturday Oct. 8, Sunday Oct. 9
Saturday Oct. 15, Sunday 16
Friday Oct. 21, Saturday Oct. 22 and Sunday October 23
Friday Oct. 28, Saturday Oct. 29 and Sunday October 30

 An updated condition book will be posted as soon as it is made available.

One of the major stalling points in the process of getting approved by the state was the use of purse pool funds to offset operating expenses. To alleviate the problem, the track will charge a $400-per horse, per-entry starter fee. The fee is refunded if the horse does not start.

The Michigan HBPA will cover the ship-in costs for the first 200 Thoroughbreds to ship-in during the meet. Mount Pleasant has 55 ship-in stalls.

To read the Gaming Control Board’s executive order regarding Mount Pleasant Meadows, click here.

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Michigan Gaming Control Board issues statement on Mount Pleasant Meadows

From the Michigan HBPA website…

MGCB ISSUES DECISION TO YESTERDAY’S ATTENDEES, rec’d at 4:19pm July 15, 2011:

“Gentlemen,

Based upon our discussion yesterday, there exist some outstanding matters that need resolution prior to any live racing at Mt. Pleasant Meadows.

Foremost, as discussed, the outstanding breakage needs to be paid and all aspects of the race meet application that require modification need to be amended, including details of capital improvements as discussed in our meeting.

The legality of the use of the purse pool to fund track operations was brought up last year by the HBPA and the MGCB was asked to look into the matter. In doing so, the advice from the Attorney General’s office was that purse pool funds could not be used for track operations, thus the purse pool order was issued earlier this year. Additionally, audits of the purse pool were conducted to further identify its usage.

Based upon review and internal discussion of the information from yesterday’s meeting and contracts recently provided between the associations and the track, the contracts denote that the purse pool remains to be used to fund operations through the use of assessments. Although this may have been prior practice by the tracks, it is by no way an “industry standard” and based upon advise from the Attorney General’s office we cannot find it to be a viable use of the purse pool funds. The track must find alternative methods to fund operations outside of deriving money from the purse pool, even if indirectly through a horsemen’s account. The MGCB is not opposed to the use of fees prior to a race, such as a starter fee, which are not derived from the purse pool.

Until the aforementioned information is addressed and we are provided contracts which adhere to the racing act and purse pool order, live racing cannot commerce at Mt. Pleasant Meadows.”

Thank You
Erik Pedersen, Deputy Director
Division of Horse Racing, Audit & Gaming Technology

With a week to go before Mount Pleasant’s scheduled opening day, and just days before the races draw, this is not promising news. One can only hope the situation is promptly rectified and racing in Michigan can finally get off the ground as planned.

UPDATE: The Michigan HBPA has put out a response to the Gaming Control Board’s ruling…

MT PLEASANT MEADOWS: Efforts are currently underway to address and comply with ALL request made in Erik Pedersen’s letter.

The MI-HBPA, GLQHA and MPM are amending contracts to meet requirements to permit entries to be taken Tues. and continue for plans for opening day Saturday July 23, 2011. A meeting is scheduled for Sat. and the MGCB will be available as the process continues.

Information will be updated ASAP.

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Michigan Thoroughbred live meet contract moves to Gaming Control Board

The Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Mount Pleasant Meadows have reached an agreement on a live Thoroughbred meet for 2011 and sent the contract to the Michigan Gaming Control Board for approval.

From the Michigan HBPA website…

MT. PLEASANT MEADOWS: The contract between the HBPA and Mt. Pleasant Meadows has been signed and sent to the MGCB for review and approval of the assessment fee and additional race dates. In addition, the contract requires a policy to cover jockeys, efforts are underway to secure a policy prior to opening day.

Race dates: 30 days starting July 23, 2011 – October 30,2011, Saturday and Sunday

Stewards are available Wednesday and Sunday mornings for clocking and licenses.

Condition Book will be available soon.

The meet’s 30-day schedule was leaked a few weeks ago, but this is the first time the HBPA has come out with a statement on its website regarding the details of the proposed meet.

Once the contract passes the state’s final hurdle, the meet ought to become official. Details on the meet’s schedule, including first post times and whether or not races will be run during the Isabella County Fair (Aug. 6-14) should be made available at that point.

As always, keep it here for further updates.

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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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Pinnacle Race Course sets opening date

From the Michigan HBPA website

MGCB RESPONDS: The Michigan Gaming and Control Board indicated today that “they have no objection to our agreement with Pinnacle.” With today’s action of the MGCB the 2010 season is scheduled to begin Saturday, June 5, 2010. Live days will be Saturday and Sunday.

Even though the race lacks any major drawing points for the fair-weather fan, opening on Belmont Stakes day ought to provide a nice additional bump to Pinnacle’s handle for the first day of the meet.

According to the HBPA website, Pinnacle is scheduled to conduct 44 days of live racing this year. Assuming the schedule stays the way it is drawn up (never a sure thing in Michigan), this equates to 22 weekends of racing through the end of October.

An interesting point to consider is that the schedule, as it stands right now, will require the MGCB to employ two sets of stewards to regulate both Pinnacle and Mount Pleasant Meadows, which will also run on Sundays through August. Last year, in a cost-cutting measure, the former Office of Racing Commissioner scheduled the two flat-racing tracks in a way that allowed one group of stewards to cover both venues. Then again, if the tracks are essentially paying their own ways this year, perhaps a set of stewards comes with the package.

So this gives us two opening weekends in a row; Mount Pleasant this Sunday and Pinnacle next Saturday. After a long, tumultuous winter and spring, it will be good to see the horses back out on the track.

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Campbell “indicates” sale of land parcel to Native American tribe

From the Michigan HBPA website

JERRY CAMPBELL SPEAKS TO HBPA BOARD: During agreement discussions, Jerry (Campbell, owner of Pinnacle Race Course) indicated to the members attending the meeting that he is involved in serious effort to offer Instant Racing (pari-mutuel wagering on old races).  In addition, he indicated that a portion of Pinnacle property south of the current structure has been sold to a Native American tribe that may build a “smoke shop” and potentially a casino. According to Jerry both endeavors are to offer millions to our purse pool. It is a an effort to save an industry whose “model is broken and must be addressed or the industry can not survive.”

No other information was immediately available, but if these “indications” are true, this could be a potential game changer. Instead of trying to go toe-to-toe with the tribal casinos, it appears Campbell has cut a deal with one of them. For those unfamiliar with the setup of Pinnacle Race Course, the track itself is built well off the road, leaving plenty of room for expansion on the property.

The tribe purchasing the land was not named in the HBPA’s release. However, it is worth noting that the Upper Peninsula-based Hannahville Indian Community applied last October to build a casino near the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, about five miles away from Pinnacle. Clearly, this is only speculation on the writer’s part, but an agreement of this caliber would have clear benefits for both parties. Pinnacle would get its casino and the Hannahville tribe would have the extra bargaining chips of supporting the racing industry and building on a site that already hosts gambling. Or, the deal could have been made with a completely different tribe and this idea was a complete whiff. One would assume we will find out in the near future.

Another question that immediately comes to mind is how the potential casino money would be distributed. The HBPA’s release suggests the purse pool would be a benefactor, but horsemen’s programs including breeder’s awards are not addressed. Again, additional details are sure to come out as time goes on.

A move like this could explain Campbell’s relative silence in regards to the two casino petitions currently battling for a place on November’s ballot. If the deal with the Native American tribe goes as planned, the track would have no need for racino legislation. If it falls through, Campbell has a safety net in the ballot proposal.

Instant racing has been suggested in Michigan for several years, but its legality in the face of Proposal 04-1 has generated mixed results from attorneys and lawmakers. The poster child for instant racing is the state of Arkansas, whose Oaklawn Park was ready to offer Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and undefeated champion Zenyatta $5 million to square off before the former’s connections backed out.

For those with access to the print edition of Thoroughbred Times, senior writer Frank Angst wrote a feature in the April 17, 2010 issue that did a great job of explaining how instant racing works and how it has changed the culture at Oaklawn. Those seeking more information on the issue would be wise to seek out the story.

It will be interesting to see how these stories develop in the coming months.

In related news, the HBPA website also reports…

PINNACLE/HBPA: Both have reached an agreement to enable the 2010 season to get underway….backside to open May 15 and track for training Monday 17th…meet will consist of 44 race days thru Oct. 31, 2010. This agreement has been presented to the MGCB for their approval. Live racing to begin June 26th thru Oct. 31, 2010

An agreement has been executed by both parties.

However, an informal meeting was held Friday May 7 to discuss the possibility of changing the current agreement. The Michigan HBPA board will address the suggested changes ASAP.

Suggested changes include the possibility of moving opening day back to June 4 and terms of financial assistance to Pinnacle.

If any changes are made to Pinnacle’s schedule, they’ll be here as soon as they become public.

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Michigan horsemen’s groups to buy race dates

Questions and searches keep coming in pertaining to the number of race dates that will be run at Michigan’s racetracks following the Gaming Control Board’s decision to drastically slash the days it would regulate into the single digits. While little has been been put in stone as of right now, here are the latest versions of the projected schedules based on published reports and interviews.

Horsemen’s groups at Pinnacle Race Course and Mount Pleasant Meadows have announced their intentions to purchase additional days of regulation from the state. Actions at both tracks require approval from the state government.

UPDATE: See? I told you things were subject to change. From the Michigan HBPA website

PINNACLE/HBPA: Both have reached a tentative agreement to enable the 2010 season to get underway….backside to open May 15 and track for training Monday 17th…meet will consist of 44 race days thru Oct. 31, 2010. This agreement has been presented to the MGCB for their approval. Live racing to begin June 26th thru Oct. 31, 2010

More information will be made available when the agreement is approved and final.

In an email conversation with Mount Pleasant Meadows mutuel manager Chris Christensen, it was learned that Mount Pleasant Meadows plans to open May 23 for an 11-day meet. Live racing will be held Sundays through Aug. 12.

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Michigan Gaming Control Board: Eight days left

From the Michigan HBPA website

LIVE HORSE RACING DESTROYED: The Michigan Gaming and Control Board (MGCB) advised the Michigan horse racing industry that the additional 20% will only permit regulation of EIGHT (8) live race days for the remainder of the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010. The simple explanation was that the budget only allowed funding for 104 live race dates and 96 have been run including 11 at Pinnacle last October 2009. The current message does not even come close to that issued to the industry by MGCB in early March. MGCB has indicated that Pinnacle will only be regulated for 3 days during the balance of the fiscal year.

Attempts continue to bring some sanity to this issue, unfortunately, the industry has not had any significant support from the MGCB to determine how daily regulation increased from $4,300 per day to $5,923 in 2010. They gave us a bill and refuse to itemize it. At this point, any restored days will need to come from our diminishing purse pool. The current decision has taken away 62 race days or 95.4%. The cost to restore all 62 days @ $5,923 is $367,226.00 that will devastate our purse pool. The HBPA board is scheduled to meet Wed and continue to address the issue.

…Whoa.

Nothing else has come out regarding this announcement, but if there is a shred of truth to it, something seems very illegal about this whole situation. The constant shell game of race dates to be regulated and the cost to make up the ones that have been dropped makes the powers that be appear as genuine as an 1850s sharecropper.

Keep an eye out for updates.

UPDATE: The actions of the Gaming Control Board and the rest of the Michigan state government could set a frightening precedent for jurisdictions in other states. Regular commenter on this site Pacingguy further elaborates on the issue on his blog, View From The Racetrack Grandstand. Definitely a recommended read.

The Daily Racing Form has also put up a story about Pinnacle’s potential three-day meet, which can be read here.

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House passes bill to restore race dates

The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill on Mar. 18 to restore some race dates taken away by the Michigan Gaming Control Board on March 3.

The bill, HB 5407, proposes to transfer $308,688 from the Purses and Supplements line item of the Ag Equine Development Fund to the Office of Racing Commissioner to help fund the regulatory body. According to the House Fiscal Agency’s analysis of the bill, an additional $36,458 would be kicked in by “private funds from the horse racing industry”.

The analysis projects this additional funding to the ORC would help restore 46 race dates that were taken away by the cuts. The total number of days reduced in the Mar. 12 announcement by the Gaming Control Board was 112.  It is not specified how the dates would be distributed between the four racetracks affected by the announcement.

Also included are a few interesting boilerplate items that suggest the State Legislature may be looking for some answers from horse racing’s new regulators. Among the items listed is a request for a status report from the MGCB regarding the transfer of the ORC into its jurisdiction. However, the highlight of the boilerplate items is the third item as seen below in the Fiscal Agency’s “Cliff Notes” version…

3. Cost of Conducting Race Dates
Requires the Michigan Gaming Control Board to use actual cost data in determining regulatory costs of conducting horse racing dates, and requires reporting.  Requires refund if costs charged to certified horsemen’s organizations is more than determined actual costs.

As many who follow Michigan’s racing industry know, the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has been investigating the reasons behind the jump in required funding for the ORC from last year. In 2009, the horsemen’s organizations paid $4,700 per additional race date to keep the ORC going at the tracks. This year, the fee has jumped $5,923 per race date.

The bill passed in the House by a vote of 106-2. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday. To track the bill, and all its changes, through Lansing, click here.

One of the two “No” votes came from Representative Justin Amash (R – Kentwood) from Michigan’s 72nd House District.

From Amash’s Facebook Page…

“Just voted no on HB 5407, which makes supplemental appropriations related to horse racing (we were told that money is just being “moved around”). Leadership pushed the bill onto the floor to resolve an alleged “emergency” with respect to racing dates. Legislators were given only minutes to read and analyze the bill. It passed 106-2.”

Thanks to Ragman for pointing that out.

Considering it was read and revised three times, I am surprised Mr. Amash was not made aware of the bill earlier. I will give Mr. Amash the benefit of the doubt, as he may not have enough knowledge about the racing industry to make an informed decision, which would be a shame for everyone involved. If that is the case, there are many fine people in this state, probably even in his own district, who would be happy to educate him.

Also, as someone who has eyes on a U.S. Senate seat in November, it is easy to posture oneself as someone who “takes a stand” to voters with a vote like this. However, given the circumstances Amash provides, if he truly did not have the time and background knowledge to make an intelligent decision on the issue, the ethical thing to do would have been to abstain instead of trying to make a statement, and toying with the fates of the state’s horsemen, with a “no” vote.

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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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