Flint Township View

Gaming board denies request for 2021 race dates at Sports Creek

SWARTZ CREEK — It’s been two years of high hopes and disappointments, and now the owners of the former Sports Creek Raceway have been dealt another blow.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced Friday, Oct. 30, that the board has denied AmRace & Sports LLC’s applications for 2021 race meeting and simulcast permits.

In a press release announcing the board’s decision, spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean said AmRace & Sports did not comply with Michigan statutory licensing requirements.

Following review of the application and its contents, the board determined the request was incomplete and “lacked necessary and required supporting information,” according to Bean.

Live racing will resume at Northville Downs, however. The gaming board approved 54 dates for live pari-mutuel horse racing on Fridays and Saturdays in 2021 at the Northville track. The board also green-lighted simulcasting at Northville.

“It has been a challenging year for live horse racing, and we hope the 2021 season will go well,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director. “The added option of mobile (online) betting approved this year provides extra support for Michigan’s horse racing industry and may draw new fans to the sport.”

After sitting idle for four years, Sports Creek Raceway showed some promise in January 2019 when AmRace & Sports, a Kentucky-based company, purchased the 108-acre property.

The new owners said then that their plan was to rebuild, rebrand and rename the facility where they hoped to offer live thoroughbred racing starting in 2019.

The clock was ticking, however, and ultimately AmRace was unable to meet the deadline for fulfilling all of the state gaming board’s requirements in order to commence racing. AmRace surrendered its race meeting license and simulcast permits later that year after failing to reach an agreement with a certified horsemen’s association and a contract for simulcasting races from other tracks.

In November 2019, the gaming control board authorized 10 race dates on the condition AmRace obtain a track license, a grandstand fire inspection report and information on track security and emergency preparedness, a written contract with a totalizator company and agreements for export and import simulcast wagering.

Again, AmRace could not meet the conditions and surrendered its race dates.

AmRace did not respond to the View’s request for comment before press time.