05/21/2009 11:00PM

Michigan plans to cut race dates


The status of Michigan racing is in limbo as track officials and horsemen's groups work to alter a plan by the Office of the Racing Commissioner that would cut racing dates this summer by more than 60 percent.

This week, racing commissioner Christine White told officials of Pinnacle Race Course that dates for the season in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 would be slashed from 68 to 25, reflecting budget reductions in the state. Proposed dates for harness racing and mixed-breed racing in Michigan have been similarly cut. Savings would result primarily from staff reductions associated with live racing.

"We're trying to regain most of them," said Pinnacle's general manager, Mike Mackey. "There is definitely some lobbying going on."

Mackey said that if dates were not restored, the decision whether to hold a meeting this year would be up to track ownership.

"Twenty-five days doesn't do much good for anybody," he said.

Horsemen's groups are also working with state legislators to appeal the reductions.

"There is work going on in that area," Mackey said.

Mackey said he believed the decision on dates would come within the next week and that he was keeping alive the possibility of a longer racing meet.

"At this point I have hopes," he said, "but not expectations."