Thoroughbred Racing Eyes Detroit-Area Return

The Michigan HBPA said it has an agreement with two tracks, including Hazel Park.

Live Thoroughbred racing is expected to return to the Detroit, Mich., metropolitan area in 2014, according to the Michigan Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

The organization said Dec. 2 it has entered into an agreement for live Thoroughbred and mixed-breed racing at Hazel Park and Northville Downs, two Detroit-area harness tracks. Hazel Park, which has a five-eighths-mile racing surface, hasn't hosted Thoroughbred racing since the mid-1980s; Northville Downs, which has a half-mile track, has been a harness-only facility.

There also will be Thoroughbred and mixed-breed at Mount Pleasant Meadows, which has had a contract with the Michigan HBPA for several years.

The applications have been submitted to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the horsemen's group said.

Details are few, but horsemen envision spring racing at Mount Pleasant Meadows, a summer meet at Hazel Park, and a fall meet at Northville Downs.

"This entirely new format for horse racing in Michigan is an important first step in finding the right combination of cooperative and willing participants to move our industry forward," Michigan HBPA president George Kutlenios told the membership in a memo.

Thoroughbred racing was held at Detroit Race Course through the late 1990s. It then shifted to western Michigan at Great Lakes Downs, and returned to the Detroit area at Pinnacle Race Course, which was open for several years before closing.