Hazel Park Raceway

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Hazel Park Raceway
Through the stretch at Panoramic Hazel Park, the Friendly Track, Detroit's first modern race course (83307).jpg
Location Hazel Park, Michigan
Coordinates 42°28′25″N 83°05′11″W / 42.47361°N 83.08639°W / 42.47361; -83.08639Coordinates: 42°28′25″N 83°05′11″W / 42.47361°N 83.08639°W / 42.47361; -83.08639
Owned by Hartman & Tyner
Date opened 1949
Race type Thoroughbred racing
Official website

Hazel Park Raceway, located in Hazel Park, Michigan, is a horse race track offering live thoroughbred racing every Friday and Saturday night May through mid September and simulcast wagering 7 days a week all year long on thoroughbred and harness races from across the US and Canada. Admission and parking are free. During live racing, guests can get up close and personal with the horses trackside in front of the grandstands in a fun, festive atmosphere or from the comfort of the clubhouse dining room located on the first turn. Live racing starts at 7:30pm and the doors open for simulcasting at 11:30am daily.

During live racing (May–September) food is available either from the many concession stands located throughout the facility, the Top of The Park Grill located on the 4th floor of the Clubhouse, or in the Clubhouse dining room. On simulcast days food and beverages are available at the concession stand on the 3rd floor or the Top of The Park Grill located on the 4th floor of the Clubhouse.

Currently owned by Bernard Hartman and Herbert Tyner, owners of Hartman and Tyner Inc., it generates roughly $550,000 in revenue for the City of Hazel Park and is one of Michigan's largest and most profitable raceways, in addition to being the only raceway in Michigan to offer live thoroughbred racing.[1]


The track length of 5/8th of a mile was the first of its kind in the nation.

In the latter 1940s a group of auto racing enthusiasts purchased 140 acres of landfill property on the Southwest corner of 10 Mile Road and Dequindre Road to build an auto racing track. Construction began on the 5/8th mile track but soon came to a grinding halt because of financial troubles with the project.

Bad news for auto racing turned out to be good news for horse racing, since a successful area businessman with a love for horse racing purchased the property from the then-defunct auto racing enterprise. Samuel "Dayton" Matkin, a race car driver, was initially the person who suggested that the track be converted to horse racing. (Matkin, one of the founders, would serve at various times as Racing Official, Timer, and Barn Superintendent.) In the early summer of 1949 with the race track itself already in place, Hazel Park Raceway went to work on converting the facility to a horse racing venue. Hazel Park Raceway opened its doors on August 17, 1949 with its first thoroughbred meet and the first harness meet was held in the spring of 1953. The track was maintained as a dual-breed facility from 1949 through 1984. From 1985 to May 2014, Hazel Park was exclusive to live harness racing. Hazel Park was the first 5/8th mile horseracing track in the United States and holds the moniker of "The Pioneer Track".

With new state legislation in 1996 Hazel Park Raceway began offering live simulcast wagering year-round 7 days a week on thoroughbred and harness races from across the US and Canada. Patrons can now wager on races from North America’s major race tracks in the simulcast lounges located on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors of the clubhouse. This allows people to wager on the biggest races in North America no matter where they are, including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont, Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug, and Breeder’s Cup.

In 2004 Hazel Park Raceway tore down its old grandstands and constructed a new 40,000 square foot multimillion-dollar structure which includes modern grandstands, a press box, and a gaming facility. Plans for the gaming facility were put on hold indefinitely pending legislative action, but the grandstands is home to Action On The Apron, a party atmosphere with an outdoor bar and live band. Here patrons get an up-close and personal view of the horses and plenty of action. The clubhouse has seen some minor renovations throughout the years and patrons can enjoy the action from the dining room located in the Clubhouse on the first turn. In addition to the dining room and many concession stands located throughout the facility, they have added the Top of The Park Grill located on the 4th floor of the Clubhouse.

Planned expansions[edit]

Gaming center[edit]

The main building hosts simulcast races, the dining room, and the Top of the Park Grill.

In 2004 the raceway put millions of dollars into their facilities in anticipation that state legislation would approve the building of video lottery products. Although the legislation never passed, Hazel Park still built a new grandstand and a 40,000 square foot expansion fulfilling their commitment to the industry in hopes of future gaming opportunities. As of 2014, the raceway still hopes to get permission from the state to build the gambling facility.[2]

Stable fire[edit]

In June 1987, a fire started at the Hazel Park Harness Raceway, killing 15 of the 26 horses present at the time. The average value of a horse in the stable at that time was approximately $15,000. The fire started in a housing barn located about 500 yards from the grandstand while races were still being held. The fire was finally contained after 30 minutes of burning; the origin of the fire is unknown.[3]

Special events[edit]

Annual fireworks[edit]

In honor of Independence Day and Labor Day, fireworks are launched at the Hazel Park Raceway for public viewing. This is usually done after the last race of the evening. Patrons are encouraged to visit Hazel Park Raceway's web page to confirm dates, as July 4 is not always the date of the display.


External links[edit]