Sports Outside the Beltway

Michigan horse racing tracks may shut down in November

Funding issues and a recent veto by Michigan’s governor could cause the lights to go out on November 5th. From

The immediate future of racing in Michigan is in jeopardy for the second time this year as the racetracks prepare to cease operations as of Nov. 5 due to the lack of funding from the state, a situation made even more dire by Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s recent line item vetoing of virtually all of the monies directed toward horse racing.

The first time this year that funding issues came into play was in late July when state money ran out to operate the Office of Racing Commissioner, which resulted in the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association taking $75,000 out of its purse pool to provide funding so that Hazel Park could continue its live race meet.

This time, it appears that avenue is not likely, so unless some sort of legislative relief comes in the next week a total shutdown of the tracks could be imminent. Live racing is currently being held at Northville Downs, but with a state auditor necessary at all the tracks because of simulcasting, all sites would have to close because there would be no money to pay that person.

“This is political football being played with the budget,” said Hazel Park director of racing Ken Marshall, who said he is remaining optimistic that funding can be found to preclude any shutdown. “This is like being in the 15th round and if we’re going to down, at least we’re going to go down swinging. This battle is not over yet.”

Governor Granholm when announcing her vetoes, she said- “I believe that horse racing programs should be self-supporting.” I think horse racing should be self-supporting also. The sad news right now is that public interest in any form of horse racing is dying off. Some people in the industry think casinos or other forms of gambling at racing establishments can save the sport. The truth is, even racetracks with slot machines and poker tables aren’t doing well enough to sustain horse racing at the same establishment. If horse racing in Michigan can’t survive without public dollars, the industry should move on to somewhere they can be profitable.

Related Stories:
Recent Stories:

Comments are Closed


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.