03/25/2014 6:49PM

Mount Pleasant Meadows in Michigan to become training facility

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Mount Pleasant Meadows, a recently shuttered mixed-breed racetrack in central Michigan, will be converted into a training center, according to the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

A deal was reached Tuesday between a group of area horsemen and the Isabella County Co-Expo Board, which controls day-to-day operations of the county’s fairgrounds, to keep the four-furlong oval open for training, beginning April 1. The Michigan Gaming Control Board has indicated that an official clocker will eventually be made available for timed workouts.

According to the Michigan HBPA, stall rental will be $1 per day, payable in advance. There will also be overnight lots for recreational vehicles and mobile homes available for $10 per night.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” said Ron Sanders, president of the Isabella County Co-Expo Board. “I’ve had probably 150 horses that are speculated to come in during the first week or two. We’ll have official workout days once a week, and they can come and gallop on a daily basis.”

Mount Pleasant Meadows, located north of Mount Pleasant, Mich. conducted live racing from 1985 to 2013, and was the state’s lone Thoroughbred venue since 2011. The track has about 300 stalls available on its backstretch.

Originally scheduled to host 16 live dates this year, Mount Pleasant ceased simulcast operations on Feb. 8 after a group of investors pulled its funding. Oil Capital Race Venture Inc., the group that leased the track from the fairgrounds, surrendered its racing license on Feb. 12.

Sanders said that the Co-Expo Board would not operate a live meet itself, but would be open to the possibility of leasing the venue for live racing once again if the right investor comes along.

“As far as us as the Expo Board, we will not be having any races there unless it can be worked out with some other entity that can come in and do it,” Sanders said, “not that it won’t happen, but there are some possibilities that we could open it up in the future.”

Michigan’s racing calendar has undergone significant changes in recent months, with the latest plan having Thoroughbreds return to Detroit-area Hazel Park Raceway from June 29 to Oct. 11, and a fall meet at Northville Downs contingent on racetrack improvements. Mount Pleasant is about 150 miles away from Hazel Park.

George Kutlenios, president of the Michigan HBPA, said that keeping Mount Pleasant active as a training center will be helpful for getting horses fit while Hazel Park continues the process of converting from a harness facility to a Thoroughbred facility.

“Even though we’re going to try to get the barn areas open as quickly as we can at Hazel Park, it was going to be tough for [horsemen] to get horses ready for opening day because they’ve always been at Mount Pleasant or somewhere else, so there were a lot of people who were concerned about what they were going to do,” Kutlenios said. “Having Mount Pleasant available as a training center will allow these guys to get horses ready, and if nothing else ship in from there in June to get ready for the races. It’ll sure help with horse supply.”

Longshot Drc 11 months ago
Charles Sakach "Somewhere during the death throws of Michigan's thoroughbred industry came the Wayne County boondoggle "Pinnacle Race Course" evolving from back-room dirty deals that was able to procure over 300 acres of land for free, provided that 1200 full-time jobs would suddenly appear. It still sits there...empty...overgrown...absent of its equipment following a liquidation auction. " Nobody especially the owners of Pinnacle nor the horsemen/women could have foreseen Gov. Granholm dissolving the ORC in 09 a year after the track was only partcially built, taking us from AG where we had been since the racing act law was enacted in 1933 and throw us to a 4 member board that only dealt with or cared about casinos. The MGCB allotted us 84 racing dates and took them all back but 3 in 2010. I'm getting sick and tired of listening to this rant on the land deal by Wayne County. The State sabotaged not only the very track they gave the tax incentives to build but the entire industry. So PRC never got the other two thirds built to get the jobs. The State made sure of it. Yes NVD's is a sad joke, sadder there will be a lot of dead Thoroughbreds.
Charles Sakach 11 months ago
I was especially saddened by the closing of Pinnacle. I had high hopes of a first-class racing center, possibly capable of hosting a Breeder's Cup someday... I didn't know all the particulars, but I did know that the Granholm administration was behind most of it. I also heard that another back room deal was trying to put a Native American casino on the property as well. Thoroughbreds need at least a one mile oval. I was glad when I heard that the track layout was featuring a 1 mile chute (which to my knowledge was never used). Personally, rather than invest in NVD or Hazel Park...some interests capable of running a first-class thoroughbred track needs to take over Pinnacle. However, marketing that product to the public...in light of direct competition with casino gaming...will be a tough sell. I also am of the opinion that the casinos never should have been built. If anything, casino gaming should have been allowed at the tracks. With the law being what it is with regard to new gambling interests, casino gaming at the tracks will probably never happen. What is troublesome: Michigan government is reactionary, rather than revolutionary. For years Coleman Young wanted a casino in Detroit. Finally, Windsor took his idea and turned it into reality. Only after the money flowed to the other side of the river, did the government do anything about it. They should have allowed casino gaming at the tracks before Windsor Casino was ever built. Now Ohio has finally caught on. Making a go of thoroughbred racing in Michigan is a tough sell and with the present business climate, an effort that is doomed from the start.
Charles Sakach 11 months ago
This was all predictable. However, if racing interests in Michigan are going to coerce me into betting on one of their races they are dead wrong (regardless of where they are being held). Thoroughbred racing has all but disappeared in Michigan. Thanks to a poor economy beginning several years ago, competition from casinos, and a state government that did nothing to preserve it. I have watched the Michigan thoroughbred industry erode from what used to bring a daily average of 4000 patrons to practically disappearing. Mount Pleasant Meadows became the last hope as this once-thriving industry was gasping for its last breaths. Somewhere during the death throws of Michigan's thoroughbred industry came the Wayne County boondoggle "Pinnacle Race Course" evolving from back-room dirty deals that was able to procure over 300 acres of land for free, provided that 1200 full-time jobs would suddenly appear. It still sits there...empty...overgrown...absent of its equipment following a liquidation auction. Now racing interests are trying to go back to using the old bull ring of Hazel Park. Why not? Hazel Park used to host a successful thoroughbred meeting when the runners and the trotters switched venues with Detroit Race Course (which is now a Costco, Meijer Supermarket, Home Depot, and several other retail outlets). Talk of bringing thoroughbred racing to Northville Downs is ludicrous. They only have a half-mile oval (like Mount Pleasant Meadows) and building a chute would remove a large portion of the current barn area (which is only a portion of what it once was when the track sold it other barn area southwest of the track to developers about 20 years ago.) ...and thoroughbred racing interests think that they can be successful putting this product in front of a betting public that has all but died off as well. Only those of us that are over 50 go to the track anymore...and we would prefer to bet on simulcasts because the quality of the horse flesh far exceeds what Michigan will put in front of us at either Hazel Park or Northville Downs. Good luck passing this bunch of excrement.
TgM 11 months ago
Wow,Great post nail on the head 100% right!