Jackson Raceway in Michigan, founded in 1948 by the late Leon Slavin, has been closed immediately by its parent company, MTR Gaming Group, which in 2004 purchased a 90-percent interest in the track. In an emailed letter sent to Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association general manager Nancy Corrion shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, MTR Gaming's secretary and treasurer Rose Mary Williams stated, "I regret to inform you that we have decided to close Jackson Harness Raceway and cease operations effective Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008."
Last month, Jackson's president and general manager Dan Rakieten, the grandson of Slavin and the son of Nan Rakieten, who ran the track upon her father's death for several years before turning the reins over to Dan, resigned his positions. The track had been awarded 26 live racing dates in 2009, spanning May 2 through July 18.
"This is a sad day for Michigan, not only for harness racing but for all breeds," Corrion told harnessracing.com. "Dan Rakieten and his staff gave it their all to revive live racing in their venue."
The letter sent to Corrion went on to read: "Although we fully understand the significant effect on the Michigan harness racing industry and your members, our parent company has no choice but to make this difficult decision due to the downturn in the American economy, the current credit freeze, and the lack of alternative forms of revenue-generating operations.
"We are mindful of the rich history of racing in Jackson and the importance of this track to your members. However, when analyzing the reality presented by the track's current economic situation, we must proceed with this business decision.
"We have appreciated the opportunity to operate a racetrack in the State of Michigan."