Tag Archives: Sports Creek Raceway

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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Michigan Notebook: February 2, 2010

– 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.

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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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Michigan Notebook: October 23, 2009

Things have been, and will continue to be, pretty hectic due to midterms, so here are a few links to interesting stories to keep you occupied until things calm down…

– The Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association announced Thursday live and simulcast racing will cease on Nov. 5. The organization stated on its website the move is in response to an executive order by Gov. Jennifer Granholm moving the racing industry under the umbrella of the Gaming Control Board and the Governor’s veto of racing-related line items in the State Budget. For more information, click here.

UPDATE: Since this was first posted, the Michigan HBPA has also put up the announcement on its website. It adds that the stoppage is due to total layoffs in the Office of Racing Commissioner stemming from the Governor’s line item veto of funding to the ORC. This means the halt in racing activities will, in fact, reach across all five of Michigan’s tracks.

UPDATE TWO: Here is a story further explaining this situation from WJRT ABC 12 News. The piece focuses on local harness track Sports Creek Raceway.

– When the news came out about the petition get the casino issue on the ballot, one of my first thoughts was whether the recently-closed Jackson Harness Raceway would get in on the action. This blog post from Jackson Citizen Patriot columnist Brad Flory answers that question. Short answer: They’ll have to buy their way in.

– Many in Michigan’s racing industry believe the Gaming Control Board is a poor fit as a governing body. This story in Crains Detroit Business (who seems to cover Michigan’s racing industry better than any other publication in the state) outlines that discontent, further elaborates on the terms of the transition to the Gaming Board, and describes the industry’s plans to protest the decision.

– Pinnacle Race Course announcer Matt Hook named his divisional award winners after the conclusion of the 2009 meet. Hook’s selections coincided with the six winners of the Sire Stakes races, so I will not dedicate a post to rehashing the information. To find out who else received honors, a Daily Racing Form story can be found here.

– This story comes from Illinois, but I’m counting it because it needs to be considered in Michigan. Here is a very informative Q&A piece about Advance Deposit Wagering. It does a better job of explaining the complicated ADW subject in plain English than any source that immediately comes to mind, including myself. It seems ADW suffered from the same “gray area” status it currently does in Michigan.

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