07/01/2016 4:13PM

Michigan simulcast purse pool money will stay with each track's horsemen


Gov. Rick Snyder signed two bills into law Friday that update Michigan’s horse racing law to include site-specific simulcast purse distribution, among other changes.

The bills were approved by the state Legislature on June 9, and are the first racing-related bills signed into law by Snyder during his five-plus years in office.

Under the new law, simulcast purse pool monies generated by a specific track will stay with that venue’s horsemen’s group, replacing the previous regulations that placed all applicable funds into a common pool and split to the benefit of the harness breeds. Depending on negotiations, 25 percent to 40 percent of the net commission generated from a track’s meet will go toward each breed’s purse account.

Standardbred venues far outnumbered Thoroughbred and mixed breed tracks when the initial Michigan Horse Racing Law of 1995 was enacted, but today the state is down to one Thoroughbred track, Hazel Park Raceway, and one harness track, Northville Downs.

The law also strengthens language and increases penalties against any person other than a licensed track operator who accepts bets on races. The state’s horsemen’s groups are working toward establishing an in-state ADW through rule changes and executive orders with the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Also included in the law is the formation of a governor-appointed Horse Racing Advisory Commission within the Michigan Department of Agriculture, which will include a chairperson, the department’s director, a veterinarian, one representative each from the Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen’s groups, representatives from both of the state’s tracks.

Other changes brought about include lowering the minimum number of race dates from 45 to 30, lowering the minimum races per card from nine to eight, and clearing out language that applied only to Metro Detroit tracks including the “6:45 rule” which prevented a harness track from racing before that time and Thoroughbred tracks from running after it on the same day.