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HURON TOWNSHIP, MI-Jerry Campbell, chairman of Citizens Republic Bancorp and a thoroughbred horse stable owner, has submitted a formal proposal to the Michigan Office of the Racing Commission to build a $142-million racing track on 240 acres here, just south of Interstate 275 and Eureka Road, near Detroit Metro Airport. Campbell, a member of the Magna Entertainment board of directors, wants to take the license that had been planned for Magna until it dropped its $325-million racetrack plans in Romulus in August.

The plan for Pinnacle Race Course includes the track, 200,000 sf of retail (made up of restaurants, shopping venues and entertainment), a large family picnic area and capacity for 10,000 spectators. Campbell expects the track will employ more than 3,100 people, he says in a press release. The township Board of Trustees and the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association support the new track, as does Wayne County chairman Robert Ficano.

In the release, Campbell said the track could be open by September 2008. It would be the only thoroughbred track left in Michigan if approved, as the Magna-owned Great Lakes Downs in Muskegon, formerly owned by Campbell, is closing Nov. 6, 2007. “It will be a devastating blow to the state’s agricultural business when Great Lakes Downs closes,” Campbell says in the release.

He says in the release that he would like to host a race in early April each year called the Michigan Derby. The derby would be a preparatory race in the weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby, with a $500,000 purse. A $5-million bonus would be paid to the owner of the horse that wins the Michigan Derby and then goes on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Campbell is reportedly seeking to have the state allow Pinnacle to have slot machines, not currently allowed unless local voters approve. Local experts believe that Magna is leaving the racetrack business in the state because it could not get permission to install slot machines. Campbell reportedly says his track could at least break even without casino-style gaming.

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