Tag Archives: Spring Fling

Spring Fling at Mount Pleasant Meadows

 Jockey Nate Alcala shows off one his whips to the crowd during Mount Pleasant Meadows' Spring Fling event prior to the day's races.

Jockey Nate Alcala shows off one his whips to the crowd during Mount Pleasant Meadows' Spring Fling event prior to the day's races.

After a week where bad news seemed to come in from Lansing on a daily basis, last Sunday brought a welcome bit of diversion.

Mount Pleasant Meadows held its Spring Fling event in the reserved section of the grandstand to introduce fans to the sport and the people behind it.

The event featured members of the track’s staff telling the crowd of about 50 about their jobs and what happens behind the scenes at the central Michigan track. Guests were also given a tutorial on how to read a racing program and place bets.

The day began with Great Lakes Quarter Horse Association Vice President Carolyn Bay describing what goes into a racehorse’s feed bin (with baggies of trail mix as examples!) before yielding the floor to her husband, track president Walter Bay, who welcomed everyone to the event.

A notable person in attendance was State Representative Bill Caul, and I believe Rep. Tim Moore was in the crowd as well. With so much of Michigan’s racing’s future resting in the State Legislature’s hands, it was nice to see members of Congress appearing at events like this. Hopefully they walked away from the event realizing how important the industry is to the state and will encourage their fellow congressmen and women to work toward aiding the efforts to keep racing alive in Michigan.

After the introduction, the track’s employees were given their time to talk to the audience and answer their questions. Speakers included:

– Racing Secretary/Announcer Robert “Butch” Berryhill
– State Steward Billy Lee Williams
– Starter Bob Williams
– Paddock Judge Jolene Sweet
– Clerk of Scales Randy Dunlop
– Mutuel Manager Chris Christensen
– Tattooer Ryan Maxum
– Jockey Nate Alcala

After the presentations, the crowd was taken down to the track where Alcala was saddling a former racehorse spending its retirement as a stable pony. The starting gates were brought in front of the grandstands  and after a brief warm-up trot, the horse and jockey were loaded and left the gates similar to a workout.

Once the horse was unsaddled, the group was brought out on to the track to get a closer look at the gates. As I made my way through the winner’s circle and out onto the racing surface, I realized I have spent more time standing on the dirt at Churchill Downs than I have at the track closest to my home. I doubt this was as much a security issue as much as it was just never having a need to be out there. Regardless, I picked up a handful of the sandy loam surface and kicked myself for not having a storage container in my possession. Someday…

After the gate demonstration, newcomers to the game were treated to a handicapping tutorial, decoding the past performances and the various ways to place a wager.

At the end of the event, guests were each given $2 vouchers for the day’s races (which for me went promptly back into the track’s bank account on my way to an absolute beating at the windows).

In terms of drawing in new fans and educating them on the sport, this is exactly what the track needed to do. It was a great way to showcase the facility, and the free program and voucher gave visitors a reason to stick around and get excited about the upcoming races after getting the rundown on how to bet. The crowd may have been a bit smaller than I would have liked to have seen, but things like this will turn newcomers into repeat customers and generate good word of mouth. If this becomes an annual event, I expect the number of attendees to double next year. If I’m still around, I’ll sure be there. Whoever came up with the idea deserves praise.

Here are a few scenes from the Spring Fling and the races afterward…

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Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pictures, Stakes Races

Michigan Notebook: May 20, 2009

Mount Pleasant Meadows is one of the few racetracks east of the Mississippi River to offer Arabian racing. Nate Alcala brings Bush Hog to the winner's circle following a win last Sunday.

Mount Pleasant Meadows is one of the few racetracks east of the Mississippi River to offer Arabian racing. Nate Alcala brings Bush Hog to the winner's circle following a win last Sunday.

– There is some good news and some bad news on the state budget/executive order front.

The Michigan HBPA and the Blood Horse report Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s initial figures, completely slashing the $1.4 million available to Thoroughbred programs, have been altered, leaving $670,000 for this year. Clearly, this is far from the ideal situation, but at least it will allow the tracks to keep the lights on for the time being. That’s the good news.

The bad news is this reduction will almost definitely come at the expense of race dates for the upcoming meet at Pinnacle Race Course, scheduled to start June 5, and the state’s already hurting Michigan-bred and Sire Stakes programs (the Blood Horse says only $150,000 will be left to fund stakes purses. Not good). A meeting was held this afternoon between the track, the horsemen and the Office of Racing Commissioner to discuss reducing Pinnacle’s scheduled 82 racing date in order adapt to the latest events. I’ll have updates as the situation develops. 

– Mount Pleasant Meadows is holding a spring Fling this Sunday at 11 a.m. According to the poster, race fans will get the opportunity to meet and take pictures with the Mount Pleasant jockey colony, as well as speak with racetrack officials, outriders, and gate crew. Questions will also be answered on aspects of the sport including how to read a program. If anything else you get a free program for the day’s races out of the deal, so it’s definitely worth it to be there.

I plan on being in attendance, so one perk that’s not advertised on the poster is the chance to meet Joe Nevills, the Internet’s Michigan-Bred Claimer. If that’s not a selling point, then I’m plumb out of ideas. Hope to see you there.

Interested parties should RSVP to Mount Pleasant Meadows at (989) 773-0012 0r (989) 386-7316. The track also requests participants to call one of the numbers the day before the event to confirm attendance.

For more information on the Spring Fling, click here.

– Here are some notable workouts from the recent past:

May 19:
Three Furlongs
Wolverine Stakes winner It’s a Ego Thing – 38.00b, 13/39

Four Furlongs
Michigan Oaks winner Clever Idea – 47.60b, 1/60
2004 2yo Male of the Year Demagoguery – 48.20b, 5/60
2008 2yo Male of the Year Mr. Conclusive –  52.40b, 57/60 
2008 3yo Filly of the Year Wave Pool – 47.80b, 3/60

Five Furlongs
2007 2yo & 2008 3yo Male of the Year Hot Chili – 58.40b 1/9 

May 15:
Three Furlongs
2007 2yo Filly of the Year Equalitysdebutante –  3680b, 3/11

– Now, here are are a few looks at last Sunday’s live card at Mount Pleasant Meadows. Enjoy!

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Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pictures, Pinnacle Race Course, Politics