HAZEL PARK (WWJ) – The horse racing season is being cut short at the Hazel Park Raceway because the venue doesn’t have enough money to stay open through September.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) said Wednesday that the raceway has been ordered to stop their live thoroughbred races at the conclusion of their August 8 race.

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With the early stoppage, Hazel Park Raceway will fulfill 30 of its 40 thoroughbred race dates granted for 2015. The season began May 1 and was scheduled to end Sept. 12.

“Hazel Park Raceway requested 40 days of live racing, which we granted,” MGCB executive director Richard Kalm said in a statement. “We were disappointed to learn there are insufficient funds available to race beyond Aug. 8. This is an unfortunate and serious matter.”

The board is currently investigating why the raceway did not fulfill its obligations under the law. Kalm indicated that it appears to be a matter of overspending, and the board does not suspect malfeasance or misspending.

Kalm said the thoroughbred purse pool was depleted rapidly this season. At a public hearing last year, the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which has a contract with Hazel Park Raceway to race thoroughbreds, indicated it would need approximately $51,000 per night from the purse pool to race.

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However, significantly more money — sometimes approximately $75,000 per night — was being taken from the purse pool for some of this season’s thoroughbred races at Hazel Park Raceway.

Kalm noted that, according to the Michigan Horse Racing Law of 1995, over $1 million is available for standardbred racing should the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association sign a contract with Hazel Park Raceway in the future.

“The MGCB remains willing to work with Hazel Park Raceway 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.”

Live standardbred racing will resume instead at Northville Downs in August and continue through November.

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