05/21/2002 11:00PM

Great Lake Downs track report


MUSKEGON, Mich. - The Michigan Office of the Racing Commissioner held a public hearing Tuesday in Livonia, Mich., to discuss the rule governing the distribution of purse money generated by wagering on incoming simulcasts. The meeting was attended by representatives of the state's Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Standardbred, and breeding industries.

Bob Miller, president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and attorneys representing Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Great Lakes Downs, spoke against the wording of the rule.

"We objected the last three years to the 'flat racing' definition including everything but harness horses," Miller said.

Great Lakes Downs stands to lose more than $1 million in purse money this year to Mt. Pleasant Meadows, a mixed-breed facility, as Mt. Pleasant's handle has increased in proportion to that of Great Lakes Downs.

The two tracks split the Thoroughbred portion of the simulcast pool based on the their respective handles, despite Mt. Pleasant Meadows being primarily a Quarter Horse track.

The distribution rule took effect in 1996, when Detroit Race Course was still operating in the densely populated Detroit area. In 1998, the last year Detroit raced, it handled $145 million, compared with Mt. Pleasant Meadows' $2.5 million, and DRC received 98 percent of the simulcast purse revenue. Last year, Great Lakes Downs handled $17.4 million, compared with $2.4 million for Mt. Pleasant Meadows, meaning Great Lakes will receive only 87 percent of the year's revenue.

It will take new legislation to make any changes in the distribution rule.