10/05/2004 11:00PM

License for Michigan track

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The good news for Michigan racing fans: After months of waiting, a license for a new state Thoroughbred track was granted on Tuesday.

The bad news: A major racing facility in metropolitan Detroit is no closer to reality than it was a year ago.

Tuesday's action by the Office of the Racing Commissioner authorizes a proposed $50 million Thoroughbred track in Windsor Township near Lansing. Developer Dorian Lange plans a limited European-style turf course and equestrian center on a 197-acre site near the intersection of Interstates 96 and 69 near the state capital.

The proposed Windsor Downs faces a host of local planning commission and township board issues before its projected opening in 2006, and a vocal group of township residents opposes the project.

Still waiting in the wings is Magna Entertainment Corp.'s license proposal to build a major racing center in Romulus, a western suburb of Detroit. A hearing on Magna's proposed license was also held Tuesday, and racing commissioner Robert Geake said he was awaiting public comment on that license.

Geake said his decision on Magna's license is unlikely to come before the Nov. 2 election. A proposal on that ballot would widely prohibit expansion of gambling without voter approval. Polls have shown that the ballot proposal has overwhelming support.