Michigan Thoroughbred Track on Schedule for July Opening

Pinnacle Race Course in Michigan remains on schedule for a July 18 opening.

Pinnacle, which will bring live Thoroughbred racing back to the Detroit metropolitan area for the first time since 1998, plans a "soft" opening this summer, officials said. Construction of the dirt racing surface, 12,000-square-foot corporate pavilion, stalls, and temporary seating areas is expected to be complete by July 18. The meet is scheduled to run 63 days this year.

Pinnacle will have 600-800 stalls ready this year.

Racing will take place this year while construction of the new grandstand, remaining horse stalls, and ancillary facilities are completed for the opening of the 2009 season. Eventually, Pinnacle will have a three-story, 60,000-square-foot clubhouse with private suites and boxes; a 4,000-seat grandstand; the corporate pavilion; an 8,000-square-foot covered patio; 30 barns with 1,200 stalls; a grooms' quarters with 100 rooms; and jockeys' quarters.

Inside the one-mile dirt track will be a seven-furlong turf course, though it won't be ready in 2008.

"Pinnacle Race Course will emerge as one of Michigan's premier family-entertainment sites, and it will be an outstanding opportunity for corporations to be attached to a new entertainment option that we expect will draw a lot of attention," track developer Jerry Campbell said in a statement. "We expect Pinnacle Race Course to have a very positive brand identity, and are excited to offer corporations an opportunity to grow with us during our first few years."

Campbell, who operates Campbell Stables with his wife, Felicia "Lisa," raced Thoroughbreds at old Detroit Race Course, which closed in 1998. He then was the driving force behind the opening of Great Lakes Downs in western Michigan in 1999 to keep the sport going in the state.

Great Lakes Downs closed last year. Pinnacle is being built not far from Detroit Metro Airport in Detroit's western suburbs.

Since the closure of DRC, Thoroughbred racing in the metro area has been available only via simulcasts at two Detroit-area harness tracks, Hazel Park and Northville Downs. Many horsemen who usually race in Michigan in the spring, summer, and fall currently have their strings at Indiana Downs in Indiana, River Downs and Thistledown in Ohio, and Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Pennsylvania.

(Originally published at BloodHorse.com.)  

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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