Budgetary Woes and Date Cuts Continue in MI

Regulation of just eight live race dates approved for the remainder of fiscal year.

The Michigan Gaming and Control Board, which announced in early March that it would trim the state's horse racing dates by more than half, has just dealt another blow to the already struggling Thoroughbred industry.

According to the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association’s Web site, which is regularly updated by executive director Gary Tinkle, continual financial woes in the state’s budget will permit regulation of just eight live race days for the remainder of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

The budget only allowed funding for 104 total live race days, and 96 have already been run between the state’s five tracks, including 11 at Pinnacle Race Course, Michigan’s only all-Thoroughbred track, last October. In March, it was announced that Pinnacle had lost 34 days, meaning it would race only 31 days from June 4-Aug. 13. But now, due to additional budget constraints, the MGCB has indicated the Detriot area track will only be regulated for three days during the balance of the fiscal year.

Daily regulation has increased from $4,300 per day in 2009 to $5,923 in 2010, however there has not been any significant support from the MBCB to determine why, Tinkle said.

The decision by the MGCB has cut a total of 62 days from the schedule, which is 95.4% less than last year. The cost to restore all 62 days at $5,923 is $367,226, which would devastate the state’s purse pool, according to Tinkle.

“We’re being impacted by the lack of revenue to fund our regulators,” he said. “We’re working with the Gaming Control Board to try and determine what the actual cost per day is. There are some unanswered questions that we have, and we’re pursuing that with the (MGCB), and hopefully we’ll get some answers to those questions sometime next week.

“We are still going to have to sacrifice some purse money in order to assist the regulators through the respectable number of race dates,” Tinkle continued. “What those will be, I don’t know. We just have to go through Pinnacle Race Course and discuss the details and scheduling and where we’ll end up in between the wall and the high number.”

“We’re in a position to at least restore a decent amount of race dates. It’s a difficult situation with many challenges here in Michigan, and we’re going to have to face those…we’re going to need some legislative assistance on helping to maintain and save these racetracks and offer a decent live racing program.”