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Monday, June 23, 2014

Hazel Park Raceway becomes first converted racetrack in Michigan

Chrissy and George Kutlenios, president of the Michigan HBPA, stand with their winning Thoroughbred race horse, Wall Cloud. Jockey Angel Ortega Stanley with groom (holding the horse) Santos Perez. Photo by Sharon Greene
By Sharon Greene, The Oakland Press

Thoroughbred horse racing has returned to Oakland County.

Hazel Park Raceway will be the first converted race track in Michigan with new surfaces, new railings, rehabilitated barns, improved facilities and infrastructure.

Horses began moving into the stalls and exercise areas this past Monday, June 16. The horses will begin their race meet on Friday and Saturday nights starting June 27 and June 28 with a Grand Reintroduction planned for Friday, July 4. Every Friday and Saturday evening (16 weekends) until Oct. 11 will have a 7:30 p.m. post time. “I began working and negotiating with all three racetracks in southeast Michigan in 2010,” explained George Kutlenios, president of the Michigan Horsemen’s Protective and Benevolent Association (Michigan HBPA) for two years and board member for five. “After this long-sought agreement was in place in January of 2014, the Michigan Gaming Control Board issued executive orders that allow for Thoroughbred racing to return to the Metropolitan Detroit Area.”

Kutlenios and his wife, Chrissy, are very familiar with operating a business and they understand the cycle of economics in Oakland County as they are successful owners of the Holly Hotel. They live on a 60 acre horse farm in Holly where they have raised race horses and have also kept retired racehorses for the past 12 years.

“The MiHBPA organizes each racing meet, coordinates the availability of Thoroughbred horses to race at Michigan race tracks and generally oversees each race meet every year,” added Kutlenios. “We also provide benevolent services to our members like health and dental care.”

Kutlenios believes that it doesn’t matter if a horseman has one horse or a stable of horses, he sees the Michigan Horsemen’s Protective and Benevolent Association as being the voice of thoroughbred owners, breeders and trainers that race in Michigan and throughout the country.

“We are horsemen helping horsemen,” he said.

To read the complete article from The Oakland Press, click here. For more information about the Michigan HBPA, go to www.mihbpa.com.

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