Michigan Celebrates Horse Racing

This year, Michigan celebrates a seventy-five year association with the horse racing industry. Governor William A. Comstock legalized horse racing in the state on 28 June 1933. In September of that year, approximately twenty thousand Michigan fans flocked to State Fairgrounds to be witness to the first racing event at the Detroit Fairgrounds racecourse. The Detroit Fairgrounds racecourse was the only racing track of the time, and in a period of thirty-one days more than a hundred thousand racing fans placed bets of well over $3.5 million. Due to the fact that horse racing was legalized in the month of June, it has been declared the Michigan Horse Racing Month.

According to Governor Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan Horse Racing Month is a time to pay tribute to the thousands of people, including trainers, owners, racing officials, racecourse employees and others, who have directly and indirectly dedicated their lives to the racing industry. Pari-mutuel racing is seen as part of the tradition in the area, where horse racing started from humble beginnings and has grown into one of the leading sports industries in Michigan. Throughout the country, horse racing has a loyal following of fans and supporters, and through the Michigan Horse Racing Month initiative it is hoped that more focus will be placed on the people that make racing possible.

Let us consider just one sector of the industry – breeding. There are many people involved in ensuring that quality bred horses are sold to the racing industry. A breeding operation involves breeders, stable workers, grooms, veterinarians and blood stock agents, to name a few, and in Michigan there are a few hundred breeding farms that breed different types of horses such as Standardbreds, American Paints and Quarter Horses. When theses horses are run on the track, the income of the racing industry in turn creates income for the state.

At present, Michigan has six licensed tracks. Jackson Harness Raceway, Sports Creek Raceway, Hazel Park Harness Raceway and Northville Downs are used for harness racing; while Mount Pleasant Meadows is a mixed breed track. The racecourse for thoroughbred racing, to be named Pinnacle Racecourse, is still under construction.

The Michigan Horse Racing Month hopes to highlight the impact and contributions that the horse racing industry has on the state economy, and to bring the people who are usually behind the scenes into the spotlight. Also, the initiative wants to reassure them that their efforts have not gone unnoticed and to bring the positive aspects of racing to the forefront.

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