11/29/2016 8:48PM

Michigan Horse Racing Advisory Commission members appointed

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The initial members of the Michigan Horse Racing Advisory Commission have been announced. They were appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to counsel the state government on racing industry matters.

The seven-person board was created for the Michigan Gaming Control Board to govern the operation and promotion of the state’s industry, and make recommendations to the state legislature. Members will serve four-year terms, expiring Oct. 31, 2020.

The board was first conceived in July when Snyder signed a pair of bills into law updating the Michigan Horse Racing Law of 1995. Group members were to include a chairperson, the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development or a designee, a veterinarian, one representative each from the Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen’s groups, and representatives from both of the state’s tracks.

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Don Ryker will serve as the group’s chairperson. He is the owner of the equine veterinary practice Don Ryker DMV and Associates, is an adjunct professor at Michigan State University, and an instructor for the veterinary technician program at Wayne State University.

Nancy Frank is the designee for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, where she serves as an assistant state veterinarian. Frank is an adjunct faculty member at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Frank Nickels will occupy the spot reserved for a veterinarian. Nickels is a professor at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he has worked for nearly 40 years. His memberships include the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is represented by its president, George Kutlenios, who is an owner and breeder in the state. Outside of racing, Kutlenios is the president of Holly Management Inc., which operates the Holly Hotel restaurant.

Thomas Bennett is president of the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association. He is vice president and market manager of The State Bank, and has been a licensed Standardbred owner, trainer, driver, and breeder over three decades in the industry.

The slot for harness venue Northville Downs will be filled by Mike Carlo, the track’s operations manager. A former marketing manager for the Daily Racing Form, Carlo holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati.

A representative for Thoroughbred track Hazel Park was not named to fill out the seventh and final spot.