11/06/2014 7:01PM

Hazel Park granted 2015 dates for Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds


Hazel Park Raceway will continue hosting both Thoroughbred and harness racing in 2015, as approved by the Michigan Gaming Control Board on Oct. 31.

The Detroit-area racetrack was approved for 40 Thoroughbred and mixed breed dates in 2015, running Fridays and Saturdays from May 1 to Sept. 12. Hazel Park hosted 38 flat dates in 2014, adding six cards to the end of the meet when Northville Downs surrendered its license.

Hazel Park was also allocated 16 Standardbred dates, to be held Fridays and Saturdays from Oct. 2 to Nov. 21. The track held 10 live harness dates in April and May after adjusting its request for 2014 race dates down from 44 to account for a primarily Thoroughbred calendar.

Northville Downs was approved for a 44-day Standardbred meet from Feb. 6 to July 2. Live racing will be held on Fridays and Saturdays until April 28 when the schedule moves to Wednesdays and Thursdays through the remainder of the meet.

Northville applied for a Thoroughbred and mixed meet license for the second straight year, but the gaming board denied the request, citing a lack of sufficient financial resources or purse pool for a Thoroughbred meet. The board’s executive order also noted that Northville did not have support from a certified horsemen’s organization for a Thoroughbred meet, and provided no track conversion plan.

After initially being denied in its pursuit to host Thoroughbred racing, Northville was granted a conditional license for 2014, but the track surrendered its dates in September shortly before the 16-day meet was scheduled to begin.

Sports Creek Raceway was approved for a 10-day harness meet from Nov. 27 to Dec. 31. The track also submitted an application for a flat meet, but was denied by the state for the same reasons given for Northville Downs.

The overlap of flat and harness meets in the metro Detroit area will enact a state law that requires Thoroughbred racing to be completed before 6:45 p.m. on any day except Sunday without prior approval from gaming board executive director Richard Kalm. Subsequently, harness racing cannot be held before that time. First post at Hazel Park was typically 7:30 p.m. during the track’s 2014 Thoroughbred meet.

Jackson Harness Raceway, shuttered since 2008, was denied in its application for a 28-day harness meet and simulcast license.