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Live thoroughbred racing dates granted to Hazel Park

The Detroit News

In a hopeful sign for thoroughbred horse racing fans, the Michigan Gaming Control Board granted 30 days of live racing next year to Hazel Park Raceway on Friday.

The dates cover live thoroughbred and mixed breed racing on Fridays and Saturdays from May 27 through Sept. 3. The move comes after Hazel Park abruptly ended its racing season Aug. 8, citing a financial shortfall.

Hazel Park saw a 20 percent surge in attendance -- 6,000 to 7,000 a night -- after switching from harness to thoroughbred racing this summer. Organizers said they spent heavily early on purses to attract more competitors and to bolster attendance, which created the shortfall. The thoroughbred season was scheduled to end Sept. 12.

The state board also granted 60 days of live standardbred (harness) race dates to Northville Downs on Fridays and Saturdays from March 18 through Oct. 8.

Thoroughbred racing returns to Hazel Park Raceway Friday.