Updated on 02/14/2014 3:20PM

Mount Pleasant Meadows surrenders racing license


Oil Capital Race Venture Inc., the group that leased and operated Mount Pleasant Meadows in central Michigan, voluntarily surrendered its 2014 mixed-breed racing license and simulcast permit in a letter to the Michigan Gaming Control Board on Wednesday.

The action came after the track ceased simulcast operations on Feb. 8, when an investment group of Michigan horsemen pulled its funding to the track, which was being used to maintain simulcast functions over the winter.

According to a press release from the gaming board, Oil Capital Race Venture will maintain its track license for the time being in hopes of securing new funding to resume live racing and simulcasting.

"The Executive Director [Richard Kalm] accepted the surrender and stands ready to assist MPM if lender support becomes available," the release read.

The simulcast purse pool monies that were apportioned for the 2014 live meet at Mount Pleasant meet will be placed in escrow.

Outstanding tickets purchased at Mount Pleasant may be cashed in the track’s simulcast area from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 17-21.

Mount Pleasant Meadows was founded in 1985 to fill the void for Quarter Horse racing left by the closure of Glendale Downs near Hillsdale, Mich. The four-furlong oval, located on the Isabella County Fairgrounds north of Mount Pleasant, Mich., was previously used mainly for fair-circuit harness racing.

The track hosted Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Paint, and Appaloosa racing, and became Michigan’s primary Thoroughbred venue in 2011. It had been operated by Oil Capital Race Venture since 1995, led by president Walter Bay, who died in 2013.

Mount Pleasant was initially approved for 43 live dates in 2014 – the same as 2013 – when race meet applications were approved by the gaming board in October.

That was later cut to 16 days from early May to late June when the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association reached an agreement with Detroit-area Hazel Park Harness Raceway and Northville Downs to convert from Standardbred to Thoroughbred venues for 2014 and beyond.

Initial plans for the re-organized Michigan Thoroughbred calendar would have made 2014 the final season for Mount Pleasant, moving to the Detroit tracks full time in 2015. However, that stance became less concrete when the state approved the most recent schedule in January.

If Mount Pleasant’s racing license is not picked up by another entity for a 2014 meet, Michigan’s Thoroughbred racing season is scheduled to begin June 29 at Hazel Park, then shift to a fall meet at Northville on Oct. 12, pending renovations to the facilities and racing surface.

If the track remains closed, Mount Pleasant would become Michigan’s sixth racetrack to shut down since Detroit Race Course, the longtime anchor of the state’s Thoroughbred industry, closed its doors in 1998.

The track would join Thoroughbred ovals Great Lakes Downs (closed in 2007) and Pinnacle Race Course (2010), as well as Standardbred venues Saginaw Harness Raceway (2005) and Jackson Harness Raceway (2008) among those closed in recent memory.