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2018 Update

2020 Update

By the beginning of 2015, there was a major shift in the racing scene in Michigan, the State that had up to eight in a year was now down to two. In 2014 Hazel Park reverted back to it's roots and went back to running thoroughbreds. The oldest track in the State Northville was the only venue featuring standardbreds, a real head scratcher considering most of the pari-mutual wagering was held at harness track since the closing of Detroit Race Course. The standardbreds  seemed to just get run out of town. 

On June 28, 1933 pari mutual wagering was authorized in the State of Michigan.  Wasting little time, on September 2, 1933, a horse named Mayco crossed the finish line at the old Detroit Fairgrounds Track, to become the first horse to win a pari mutual race in the state. During the thirties, the Detroit Fairgrounds was the only track in Michigan to hold an extended race meeting. The old fairgrounds also takes credit for turning around the career of the great Seabiscuit.

In the forty's harness tracks sprung up in Northville, and Jackson. Hazel park opened for thoroughbred racing. In 1949 The Michigan Mile was run for the first time at the final meet ever held at The Detroit Fairgrounds.

In 1950 the new Detroit Race Course was opened to replace the old fairgrounds track, in fact DRC kept the same "Det" racing form abbreviation as the old track. Detroit Race Course also became the first Michigan track to run both a thoroughbred an harness meet. In 1953 Hazel Park also adopted that schedule.

The 1960's were great times in Michigan, in 1968 The Detroit Tigers were the kings of baseball, and around the same time on September 14, 1968 Denny McClain was closing out his thirtieth win as the great racehorse Damascus was being loaded in the starting gate for the running of The Michigan Mile.

In the seventies, things started to change as a State Lottery was authorized. A short lived quarter horse track, Glendale Downs opened in Hillsdale.

In the eighties new harness tracks open in Saginaw, Schwartz Creek, and Muskegon. Mount Pleasant Meadows opened to replace Glendale Downs for mixed breeds. Hazel Park switches to all harness as Detroit Race Course goes all thoroughbreds.

In the nineties, the party was winding down, Detroit Race Course and Muskegon Downs went out of business. Muskegon Downs was reopened as Great Lakes Downs and was the only thoroughbred venue in Michigan.

The new century brought little hope for Michigan, especially thoroughbreds. Great Lakes Downs goes out of business for good and a new Detroit track Pinnacle Downs opens but only lasts one year.  Harness racing ends at Jackson Raceway. Mount Pleasant Meadows and Sports Creek also bite the dust.

If your interested in visiting all the tracks listed for Michigan, your going to spend some time on the road as you crisscross the state. The good news, if your only looking for live racing, you only have two tracks to go to, both in the Detroit area. In 2016 Northville Downs and Hazel park will both be running, but if you want to touch them all, you have some travelling to do.

Say we ended up at Raceway Park in Toledo, Ohio. The logical starting point is to head for Detroit, specifically New Boston, where you'll find the rather new carcass of Pinnacle Park. From there it's thirty minutes to Hazel Park. After Hazel Park you head west to Livonia, you may or may not want to look for Detroit Race Course, your certainly not going to find it, the grand old track is now a bunch of crappy warehouses, not even a street named after it. Whatever you decide, Northville is next about twenty minutes from Livonia, but you better hurry.

Actually you better hurry for the rest of the trip, it's probably all going to look like Detroit Race Course in the near future, if it already doesn't. Northville is still there, but it looks like it could be on it's last leg. Speaking of legs the next one takes us out of the Detroit area heading north to Swartz Creek, to Sports Creek. Sports Creek is closed, but it's still standing, at least you'll see something that looks like a race track. Another forty five minutes or so up the road you come to Saginaw, the track is still there, the grandstand is pretty run down but it's there for now. About an hour and fifteen minutes from Saginaw you'll come to Mount Pleasant Meadows a small mixed breed track, that's the northern most point of the trip.

Mount Pleasant Meadows is closed as far as pari-mutual wagering is concerned, but i would think it's still used for training and maybe they race for fun on the weekends! Now you head due south for about two hours to Jackson, At the fairgrounds you'll find Jackson Raceway, this track should be in fairly good shape as there's been plenty of talk the last few years about it re-opening. For the last and longest leg, over two hours to Muskegon, all your going to find there is a hole in the ground, where Great Lakes Downs used to be, but if you do go, it's put you in a good spot to head for Illinois and Balmoral Park, where the bulldozers are starting to line up.

2018 Update

It looks horse racing could be over in the state. Hazel Park, has closed after 70 years and Northville Downs will soon become a housing development, they were the last tracks running in Michigan. All nine Michigan tracks have closed since the late nineties, two of the four Detroit tracks, Detroit Race Course and Pinnacle Race Course were demolished and when Hazel Park and Northville Downs get razed, there will be no sign that racing existed in the city.

As for the rest of the state, Great Lakes Downs and Saginaw Valley Downs have been leveled and Jackson Raceway is scheduled to join them after this years fair. I believe that will leave Mount Pleasant Meadows and Sports Creek Raceway as the only intact facilities in Michigan.

I guess this will be the fate of any track in a state that doesn't have a casino attached to the track.     

2020 Update

The devastation continues, Hazel Park and Mount Pleasant Meadows have both been razed. This leaves only two tracks standing in the state, Northville Downs and Sports Creek Raceway. Northville cause it got a gift, Sports Creek cause it's looking for a gift.