Believe me the MAIN picture had a 100 people jammed into that Winner Circle. This was just an after picture. And this one above may disappear.
The Detroit Race Course (DRC) opens in 1950 and Livonia Township becomes the city of Livonia to qualify for revenue from the new track.
In 1998 Livonia voted to Destroy DRC. The track that made them a city.
And in 1998 the Distribution of Pari-Mutual Wagering Revenues to Livonia received from DRC was:
I wonder what they made off Meijers in 1999?
DRC downfall came from two entities Hartman & Tyner who should have never been allowed to acquire DRC in the first place since these two same owners already owned Hazel Park.
They had already turned Hazel into a dump. And did the same to DRC.
Then came along the most destructive one, Ladbroke. A name I cannot stand. This English group were the biggest bookmaking business back in England. They didn’t give one iota about LIVE racing. They just wanted a betting parlor.
Ladbroke had purchased DRC in 1985. The very first track in America they were able to get their hands on. They went after Turf Paradise initially but failed. How lucky for us. Then in 1988 they bought The Meadows in Pittsburgh, 1989-leased it in 2001- sold in 06, Golden Gate Fields in San Francisco sold to Magna in 99, 1990 Canterbury Park in Minnesota only to close it down in 1992. It was re-purchased and re-opened as Canterbury Downs.
” In the next few years’ horizons began to expand. In 1985 Ladbroke opened 438 betting shops in Belgium to cater for increased demand. They also moved into the United States, opening at racetracks and in telephone betting theatres, the largest of which was in the industrial heart of Detroit “.
The HEART OF DETROIT? Yeah they stuck a knife into it and killed it off.
The only race track Ladbroke was able to literally destroy was the Detroit Race Course. We were just another number to them
With the other tracks they owned, they only owned the Tracks itself. With DRC they also acquired the land therefore they owned it lock, stock & barrel and when their demands of more gaming was completely blown off by then Governor Engler. They decided right then and there that DRC would be DESTROYED. Unlike the other tracks that had to be sold still as Race Tracks.
The only one who could have saved us was the City DRC made. Livonia.
At first the Livonia planning commission turned down the zoning request for a shopping center. 3-1
I went to every single council meeting Livonia held on DRC. Very few Livonia citizens attended. The ones who did, a few elderly people stood up and spoke. DRC is an eye sore. The workers there are undesirables.
Yes us people who got out of our beds at 5:00 am seven days a week from the first week of February when the stable area opened for training, to the closing of the live racing meet sometime between Nov. & Dec. were Horrid people. How undesirable to work from anywhere from 5:30 am to 6:30 pm at night depending of what we had running any particular day.
When others had Easter, Memorial day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving day off. Us race track stable area undesirables worked those days. With the care of Horses, there weren’t any days off. It was a 7 day a week job for almost 10 straight non stop months. How lowlife we were.
I shook my head at those meetings listening to all this shit. But they were right only about one thing. DRC was already a dump made a dump by Hartman & Tyner by time Ladbroke bought the place in 84. When they opened in 85 absolutely nothing had been done to improve the place and with Ladbroke only wanting a betting parlor they could have cared less.
In reality the day they brought in Bill McLaughlin, referred by many in the racing industry as the Dr. Kevorkian of race tracks. We knew we were done. He was the hatchet man for Ladbroke at Canterbury. In the second to last council meeting in Livonia still all were not on board with the shopping center idea. But whatever happened between the second to last and the last held on October 8, 1998. All of a sudden a feeling of sugar syrup was dripping from the ceiling of that last council meeting. Millennium who was the company purchasing DRC from Ladbroke and McLaughlin were smiling and laughing from ear to ear after the council voted Yes to the rezoning, voted down by the planning commission.
You couldn’t have convinced me that some $$$$ Had not by put into some pockets there before that last meeting even took place. Had it not been for Livonia caving and giving that vote to re-zone. Ladbroke would have been either forced to sit on the property forever paying taxes or selling that track still as a track. Livonia wanted DRC and all us undesirables both workers, patrons & whomever associated with DRC gone. They got their wish.
Along with the buildings, barns, track, & property ripped into shreds, thus so was our lives. Every single Thoroughbred Horseman & Woman livelihoods destroyed. We were the casualty Governor Engler and Livonia failed to see. So I’ll ask the same question I posed at the beginning. I wonder if the new Meijer’s brought in the same Revenue to Livonia?
I THINK NOT. Because shortly there after Livonia was crying broke as in LAD BROKE. And all I can say is they got what they begged for.
Just months after the new Meijers and other stores and restaurants were put up. I ran into two Livonia cops that worked plain clothes at DRC. With the already two murders that took place there and the countless runs for shoplifting’s, purse snatchings, carjackings, & robberies. In the first 6 months of that new shopping center the Livonia Police had more runs there then the 49 year history of the Detroit Race Course.
I know one thing whatever these crazy people thought of us or the gamblers who came to DRC everyday, Thieves and Murderers we weren’t. But they had them there now.
It wasn’t DRC that was the eye sore, it was when it was no longer standing there that it became one. And with it gone came the crime, Big Time.
Personally I wouldn’t raise a RAT in Livonia now. With the continuous shutting of businesses there they’re looking like Detroit everyday. Another city Livonia considered to be an undesirable. As far as I’m concerned welcome to the club.
MR. LUCKY PHOENIX ridden by Brian Fan as he won the $100,000 Michigan Mile + 1/8
Partial List of Michigan Mile Winners
” Wolverine Raceway “
( Harness Links brought up pages Saturday a.m., Now? I’m getting 403 Error at present Sunday a.m )
In 1973 my Mom and a friend started to go to some harness races. Then both my parents would occasionally go. I was 16.
I started looking in the entries in the paper and strictly picked horses names to bet on. Whether my Mom and Millie or my parents would go. I’d give them a couple of bucks and write the name of the horse. To WIN. Sometimes the only one who made a dime was me sitting at home. I started going out to DRC’s Wolverine meet in 74 with them. After two years of working from 16 years old, I bought my first car two months after turning 18. Me and my 71 Dodge Challenger started going to the track regularly during the Wolverine meet.
Still just picking horses by their names, and most everything I bet was Longshots. I got to know and became friends with a lot of people who worked there. Mostly tellers and security. And my betting practice of only placing WIN bets has never changed to this day.
In 1975 I got to know and become friends with two people whose friendships didn’t end until their deaths. One was a Mutual clerk named Tommy Jackson. Now there were two people there by that name, the Tommy I was friends with was the elder of the two. Tommy owned a bar in Highland Park at the time and it burned down. A few years later he opened one on 7 mile between Evergreen and the Southfield freeway. The name ” Shamrock’s “. The man was a gentle giant and turned out to be one of the nicest people I encountered in my lifetime.
When the meets switched that year, the TB meet started. Long story short one day there was a horse by the name of ” Notes & Chords “. Just the day before I had gotten some new guitar strings for my acoustic. So Notes & Chords it was.
In 75′ the tote board only went as high as 99-1, didn’t mean the odds weren’t higher. I put two bucks on his nose, Tommy also made a bet in the race a 60-1 shot. At the last second Tommy says you want to split? If I win I’ll split with you if you win you split with me. I said OK. The race went off, in reality there was a tragic outcome in that race and a horse literally was run into the rail causing it to break its neck. I was sickened that, that had to occur. Notes & Chords had finished 3rd in the race. But the Inquiry sign & Objection signs both started blinking.
There were two objections in the race against the First & Second place finishers. The first place jockey caused a horse to die that day. But the second place horse had caused interference out of the starting gate. By time the signs stopped blinking they had taking both horses down and put mine up at 118-1. Notes & Chords was the winner by not one but two disqualifications. He paid $239.60 on a $2.00 bet. I looked at Tommy laughing and said OH YEAH SURE you picked the right race to say you want to split! He laughed then he took the program (they were small ones for the TB meet) leaned over the screen and tapped me gently on the head saying these words. I now Christian thee LONGSHOT. And it stuck.
From that point on most of the friends in the mutuals called me by the nickname Tommy bestowed upon my head. So did everyone else in the joint. In 76′ he said why don’t you put an application in for the mutuals and I did. So at 19 years old my career started at DRC. But getting into the mutuals was like pulling teeth. I’d sign in each and everyday day or night depending on what meet it was, not only at DRC but a HP and NVD. Back then the machines were a bitch, especially the gimmick machines. They had separate windows for $2.00,& $5.00 & WIN, PLACE, SHOW, $6.00 & COMBINATION ($2.00 across the board), $10.00 & the $50.00 window. Cashiers were on the other side again for their respective wager tickets. The Perfecta & Trifecta were in a different section all together.
The machines for the gimmicks were finger breaking. The first button on top row you pressed was for the RACE number, the first number on bottom row was the first number pressed for your pick. For Tri’s you were pressing four buttons down. After each and every race the Supv. changed the codes manually for each and every window. And the really shitty part of all this was you didn’t even get to count your own money. You wrapped a rubber band around the stack with a slip and placed it into a bag with all the rest. The money room people counted it and in reality some also had a field day with it.
No camera’s weren’t installed until the very end of the 70s when people were fed up with coming up short and knew they didn’t F’ up. Then the stealing stopped. After years of signing in and not getting the required 21 days in for each meet for seniority I said screw this. Reality was there was such a click in this dept. it was enough to make you puke.
I wasted in total 10 years attempting to gain seniority in a Dept. if you weren’t related to the Mutual manager and all of that family’s friends you weren’t going to get in. Thank God being there everyday while also holding a short order cooking job (hell, I had to pay the bills) I got to know a lot of trainers and owners thus I started hot walking. I loved the horses and was angry at myself for just not starting with them at 19 instead of wasting my time in the mutuals waiting for some asshole Mutual manager to put me to work.
Another friend who I became instantaneous friends with in 1975 worked for Sports Service. She had her own office and worked in the linen Dept. Her name Ernestine Ruffin.
In the 70s there were still a lot of completely ignorant individuals who didn’t make any secret of their prejudices and the fact that I had a lot of in their words black friends and didn’t mind voicing it to my face. My answer to them; I wouldn’t have given up the friendships I had with people for a million white ones. Some say that was the real reason I never got seniority in the mutuals. And I say to that WHO GIVES A F’.
Me and Ernie only saw one thing when we looked at each other, ANOTHER HUMAN BEING PERIOD. All that bullshit wasn’t a part of our worlds. In 2002 my heart broke after being there for her straight through the cancer that killed her. She referred to me as her adopted Italian kid and I referred to her as my adopted Black Momma. I loved that lady as I did Tommy who gave me my nick name of Longshot in 75. Tommy died in 1985.
There wasn’t a Dept. of DRC I didn’t have friends in. Front side, Back side, Right side, Left side. DRC was home for me. I lived 5 miles away but it was still HOME. Through many illnesses at different intervals in my life it was that track, my work and my friendships with the people there that got me through the worst of times. I always said if I had to drop dead I hoped it was at DRC. At least I would have been with a family of friends.
That is what Ladbroke, Governor Engler and Livonia nailing that last nail into our coffins destroyed. Hope it was worth it to Livonia.
DRC wasn’t just a Race Track. It was our LIVES and over a 1,000 of us alone in the stable area coming to an end.
I still have dreams of DRC, and it’s always the same dream. We’re sill there but buried from sight by a shopping center and nobody even knows we’re still there but us. In reality when that major fire burned through three barns off Middlebelt in the 70s, it was there that they buried those horses that perished in that fire. Meijers is sitting on top of them. They certainly didn’t dig up their remains before that store was built or paved over with cement. So in a way I guess some ghosts ARE still there stirring in the wind and the people who go there honestly don’t know it.
So if your ever in that store and hear the sound of Horse Stomping Thunder you’ll know why. Because in essence all of our Hearts and Souls both People and Horses are still there.
Whether anybody realizes or not.
1950 DRC Club House
1950s Post Card of DRC
They Destroyed DRC,
They could not destroy our MEMORIES.
1967 DRC Racing Secretary Howard Battle
1978 Detroit Race Course Ramon Vazquez
1971 Detroit Race Course Danny Perez
7/11/1987 Race 10 Michigan Mile and One-Eighth Handicap – Gr.2
You can click on these next 17 pictures and they will ZOOM crystal clear.
Coming out for the post parade, DRC winner circle almost completely submerged on one beyond muddy day back in the 70s.
Picture courtesy of Jeannie Maxwell Richardson.
Picture courtesy of Mike Manganello.
1961…(Double Click on the next 3 pictures to Super Zoom). When our local TV station advertised in the program.
Jockey’s Listed in Race 5 & 6 1961
Ronnie Baldwin (5.6), John Burton, Earl J. Knapp, Edward Plesa, John Bev (5.6), Ronnie Campbell (5.6), James F. Young, Dudley Vand’ ne’ re’, Richard Hurley, Willaim Zakoor, Richard L. Barnett,
Owner (#1 6th): National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame M. H. Vanberg (Jacks Dad)
Can be clocked onto (twice) to super-zoom to read names.
Can be clocked onto (twice) to super-zoom to read names.
Mike Manganello on TV Vixen 1977 Mi. Bred Stakes.
Picture courtesy of Mike Manganello.