This was it! The big exciting new racetrack outing of 2014! Hazel Park ... yes, THAT Hazel Park.
After the government of Michigan managed to screw the new Pinnacle Racecourse out of business, thoroughbred racing in Michigan was pretty much banished to tiny Mt. Pleasant Meadows kinda upstate. The thoroughbred horsemen really wanted somewhere closer to Detroit to run, though. And meanwhile these dang harness horses were running at run-down tracks all over, tracks that were way closer to Detroit. So all of a sudden some deal was hatched and Hazel Park, yes THAT Hazel Park reached some sort of agreement with the Michigan tbred horsemen to run there (in the process screwing Mt. Pleasant Meadows), screwed the harness horsemen by kicking them out, and got some thoroughbred dates.
Well. I could not pass this up. Who knows how long this might last? It's Michigan, after all. Someone will be screwing someone else in no time. Need to take advantage of this NOW. So we drove on over. Fully expecting the worst, of course, because Hazel Park had something of a rep for being, let us say ... somewhat neglected. Words like "dump" and "pit" were often seen in close proximity to the name Hazel Park in Internet posts.
We were pleasantly surprised. Yes it was older and well-used in spots, but it wasn't bad at all. Good selection of concessions at a reasoanble price, racing decent enough considering it's Michigan racing, but the biggest surprise of all was the huge crowd in attendance, all having a great time. Apparently they really appreciated having live thoroughbred racing back in the area.
Here's hoping this experiment is a success, and they can avoid screwing each other for a good number of years.
On the way back to Chicago we stopped by the shuttered Pinnacle to see how it was doing, and it looked like someone could open it tomorrow. Know I got some pix but danged if I can find them.
Hazel Park Raceway
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