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Update On Sports Creek Raceway

Published: October 21, 2018 10:58 am ET

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A push to bring live horse racing back to the shuttered Sports Creek Raceway has picked up momentum, as a horsemen’s group has announced that a deal is in place to purchase the track, and state regulators have confirmed that two applications seeking licencing have been received.

In late September, Michigan Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association President George Kutlenios explained that a group of Thoroughbred owners were in talks to purchase the Michigan raceway, which has sat empty since it closed at the end of 2014. Kutlenios said at the time that there was a good possibility that live harness racing could also return to Sports Creek.

A few days later, an mlive.com article highlighted that the MHBPA had announced that Amwest and AmRace & Sports, LLC had signed and entered into an agreement in principle to purchase the raceway. The announcement states that the closing on the property could be on or before November 1, and that the Michigan Gaming Control Board has received the necessary information needed. AmRace & Sports’ immediate goal is to start simulcasting on January 1, 2019. The announcement explains that tentative race dates applied for will be thirty days of racing (on Friday and Saturday evenings) between May 31 and Labour Day.

This past Friday (Oct. 19), Michigan Gaming Control Board spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean confirmed that the MGCB has received applications that would allow the shuttered facility to re-open. Bean explained that one application is under review and action on it is expected in October. She also stated that a second application "requires further review" and likely won't be acted on this month.

Last week’s developments didn’t specifically mention the return of live Standardbred racing to Sports Creek Raceway. Kutlenios had mentioned in late September that the track’s prospective new owners were interested in running live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in 2019. During that discussion, however, Kutlenios did state that he had spoken with the potential new owners about bringing live harness racing into the fold, and that he had been in contact with Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association President Tom Barrett.

"We're for all the horsemen, we're not going to be a game killer for anybody,” Kutlenios said. “I've already talked to the potential new owners about doing a split meet there for harness and Thoroughbreds, just like they did at DRC and Hazel."

(With files from the Michigan HBPA, mlive.com and harnessracing.com)


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