Hazel Park Raceway closes after nearly 70 years of horse racing


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. 

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.