HAZEL PARK (WWJ) — Thoroughbred horse are racing again at Hazel Park Raceway for the fist time in some 30 years.

Assistant Operations Director Mike Stoman said that Hazel Park Raceway will have to take on casinos and the lottery for a share of the public’s “discretionary” money.

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“You have a much better chance in your betting dollars to go much further at the horse races,” Stoman said. “You can walk in with $20 to $50 into the horse races and you’ll be here all night — you can walk into a casino and you’re there for five minutes and you’ll lose that much money.”

Stoman said “back in the day” Hazel Park Raceway would have a million dollars in “live handle” — bets on local races. During this return to thoroughbred racing, Stoman said he expects a tenth of that — $100,000.

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“You can go to the corner and you can buy a lottery ticket and you’re lucky if you win,” Stoman said. “Then you can go to the casino and push a button and then watch the slot machine spin and you’re lucky again if you win. But, at the horse races you basically can come and you can study a program and you can learn to look at what’s called past performance of a horse and you can make your own luck.”

The hope is a just-completed $250,000 makeover of the track from a hard lime-stone surface for harness racing to a softer, loamy surface for the thoroughbreds and to help attract top-notch competitors.

Post time at Hazel Park is 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights through October 11. There is no admission fee and parking is free.

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During the thoroughbred absence, the track — located on Ten Mile west of Dequindre in Hazel Park — continued operating as a harness track.