Mount Pleasant Meadows, a half-mile mixed breed racetrack located in central Michigan, has a contract with horsemen for a 30-day live meet with Thoroughbred races making up the bulk of the cards, but racing hinges on approval from the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
The meet, scheduled to run on weekends from July 23-Oct. 30, was proposed by the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Horsemen in the state were left with nowhere to race when Pinnacle Race Course vacated its racing license for this year.
Following a July 15 meeting with the Michigan HBPA, Erik Pedersen, deputy director of the MGCB division of horse racing, raised several concerns about the meet in a letter, and indicated that unless the issues were addressed the track would be unable to offer racing.
“The outstanding breakage needs to be paid and all aspects of the race meet application that require modification need to be amended, including details of capital improvements as discussed in our meeting,” Pedersen said in his letter. “The legality of the use of the purse pool to fund track operations was brought up last year by the HBPA, and the MGCB was asked to look into the matter. In doing so, the advice from the Attorney General’s office was that purse pool funds could not be used for track operations, thus the purse pool order was issued earlier this year. Additionally, audits of the purse pool were conducted to further identify its usage.
“Based upon review and internal discussion of the information from (the July 15) meeting and contracts recently provided between the associations and the track, the contracts denote that the purse pool remains to be used to fund operations through the use of assessments. Although this may have been prior practice by the tracks, it is by no way an ‘industry standard,’ and based upon advice from the Attorney General’s office we cannot find it to be a viable use of the purse pool funds.
“The track must find alternative methods to fund operations outside of deriving money from the purse pool, even if indirectly through a horsemen’s account. The MGCB is not opposed to the use of fees prior to a race which are not derived from the purse pool. Until the aforementioned information is addressed and we are provided contracts which adhere to the racing act and purse pool order, live racing cannot commerce at Mount Pleasant Meadows.”
The Michigan HBPA board met July 16 to amend the contract and meet the requirements established by the MGCB in the letter. Michigan HBPA executive director Gary Tinkle said July 18 there were no updates on the situation.
Entries for the first day of racing were scheduled to be drawn July 19.
Mount Pleasant opened its facilities for workouts July 13 in preparation for the meet. A few three-day weeks are being planned for the second half of the meet to make up for the dates lost to the Isabella County Fair in early August.
Mount Pleasant Meadows in the past has offered Quarter Horse, Arabian, and some Thoroughbred racing on weekends. The first condition book shows purses similar to those offered in 2010 at Pinnacle--$10,000 for maiden special weight events and $8,000 for a $4,000 claimer, for example.
Because of the track configuration, 4 1/2-furlong to six-furlong races will be run around two turns.