Hazel Park Raceway, which had no Standardbred race dates in 2015 but was granted 40 Thoroughbred dates, was given approval Tuesday morning by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to cancel its final 10 dates due to insufficient funds.
Richard Kalm, executive director of the MGCB, said in a press release that it appears the situation came about as a result of overspending, and that the MGCB "does not suspect malfeasance or misspending.”
"We were disappointed to learn there are insufficient funds available to race beyond Aug. 8. This is an unfortunate and serious matter," Kalm said.
Thoroughbred racing returned to Hazel Park last year following a 30-year absence in which the track held just harness racing. This year's Thoroughbred meet began May 1 and had been scheduled to end Sept. 12. Instead, the meet will now conclude on Aug. 8.
According to the MGCB, the Michigan Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents the Thoroughbred horsemen at Hazel Park, indicated it would need approximately $51,000 per night for purses. The track raced live Friday and Saturday nights. Instead, the MCGB reported more money—sometimes about $75,000 per night, was used for purses.
With the closure this year of Sports Creek Raceway near Flint and Hazel Park, located in suburban Detroit, not conducting a harness meet this year, more than $1 million remains in the Standardbred race fund. Kalm said the money would become available should the Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association sign a contract with Hazel Park in the future.
"The MGCB remains willing to work with (Hazel Park) management if it can find a solution to its financial challenges,” Kalm said. "However, the MGCB must work within the framework of state law. We encourage all of the parties involved in the horse racing industry, including the tracks and the horsemen's associations, to cooperate to best meet the challenges faced by the industry."