Budget Woes Force 63% Cut in Pinnacle Dates

Budget Woes Force 63% Cut in Pinnacle Dates
Photo: Courtesy Pinnacle Race Course

Pinnacle Race Course, which just opened last year, has been ordered to cut 2009 dates by 63% because of budget reductions in Michigan, the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association reported May 20.

In an e-mail to The Blood-Horse, Michigan HBPA Gary Tinkle said the track in the Detroit suburbs will race only 25 days, all in June and July, by order of Michigan racing commissioner Christine White. Michigan, like other states, is in a financial freefall.

Pinnacle, which opens June 5, was scheduled to race through the fall. In all, 39 days will be lost under the current budget plan.

“Michigan horsemen and women cannot survive,” Tinkle said. “This is the end to more than 75 years of producing revenue for the state and income for thousands of families.”

White will submit her budget to the governor May 22. Horsemen said they hold out hope there could be modifications before that time.

The Michigan HBPA also reported racing dates at Mt. Pleasant Meadows, a mixed-breed facility located in the central part of the state, will be cut 68%, and harness dates at Hazel Park, the state’s top harness track, will be cut 65%.

The slashing of dates comes just after another major blow: Gov. Jennifer Granholm said 100% of the $1.4 million earmarked for Michigan’s Thoroughbred programs for 2009 would be used instead to deal with the state’s budget deficit. That move obliterated Pinnacle’s stakes program, which was devoted entirely to Michigan-bred horses.

Michigan tracks and horsemen’s groups have been unsuccessful lobbying for racetrack gaming in a state with numerous privately-owned and tribal casinos.

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