Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hazel Park Raceway closes after nearly 70 years of horse racing

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 11:06 AM

click to enlarge Champion jockey Melissa Zajac charges down the stretch during a race at Hazel Park Raceway. - RICK DELORME
  • Rick DeLorme
  • Champion jockey Melissa Zajac charges down the stretch during a race at Hazel Park Raceway.

Hazel Park Raceway has closed after nearly 70 years of horse racing.

The track cited ongoing financial problems in a news release sent out Thursday morning. The first signs of the closure came yesterday, when the track reportedly sent horses away on their ship-in day.

“Over the past 25 years, the gaming industry has dramatically changed throughout the country. Clearly, this has had a significant impact on the proud tradition of horseracing throughout Michigan," the raceway said in a statement. "For nearly 70 years, Hazel Park Raceway has appreciated the hard work and support of both employees and fans, as well as the economic and entertainment value this venue has brought to the community."

Hazel Park Raceway was just a month out from the start of its 2018 season.

The racetrack says it will try to ensure a soft landing for its roughly 90 employees by offering transition services to those affected and helping them as they look for new jobs.

According to its website, Hazel Park Raceway was built to be an auto track in 1948, but went bankrupt before any cars ever hit the track. It was bought by a local businessman and turned into a horse track with its inaugural harness race held in 1953 with 15,000 people in attendance. More than $1.4 million was bet that day. 

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