03/30/2010 11:00PM

Pinnacle facing three-day meet

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Michigan's summer Thoroughbred racing season has been reduced to three days following action by the state Gaming and Control Board, which cited budget constraints in cutting the season at Pinnacle Race Course from its original 65-day schedule.

The action has drawn the ire of the state's Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association executive board, which was scheduled to meet Wednesday evening in Lansing to discuss options.

"It's nonsensical - it verges on insane," said Gary Tinkle, executive director of the Michigan horsemen's association.

A previous cut announced March 3 reduced the dates from 65 to 31. Currently, Pinnacle is slated to run a three-day meeting with opening day on June 4 and closing day on June 6. Action by the horsemen's group could move money now dedicated to purses to the Gaming and Control Board to fund regulation.

In an early-March presentation to state horsemen's groups, Gaming Control Board officials said that they had been advised by the Michigan House and Senate appropriation committees that revenue projections continue to decline and are estimated to be 20 percent below appropriated levels. Michigan is facing a projected $1.7 billion budget deficit for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Tinkle said that takeout taxes from imported simulcasts at state tracks was nearly $3 million from Oct. 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010, already more than enough to cover the approximately $2.5 million needed to fund racing regulation for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.

"It's like we're getting double-dipped," Tinkle said. "We've already generated enough money to fund this regulation and now we have to go into our purse money and do it again."

The state legislature began a two-week Easter recess on March 26, so no concrete action is expected until it reconvenes.