Monterey Downs Mirrors Epic Failure of Pinnacle Race Course in Michigan

Monterey Downs is using a similar template to Pinnacle Race Course.


Think Monterey Downs and horse racing will bring economic prosperity to Fort Ord and the Monterey Peninsula? Does this story sound familiar? Are you listening Monterey County? Are you listening Seaside?

Pinnacle Race Course was a failed attempt to start a new thoroughbred horse racing track in Huron Township, Michigan. The track was built on land owned by Wayne County, and the county lost $36 million when it failed.

The track was described by Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano as an experiment in cutting red tape. Ficano said, “I see this as an experiment to see if we can deliver speed, speed, speed…” Ficano was convinced by Republic Bancorp founder Jerry Campbell that a track would be viable in Wayne County, and would generate 2,300 permanent jobs. Based on this Wayne County sold the developer 320 acres of land for $1, and spent $26 million building roads, and installing sewer and water to the site.

Banker Jerry Campbell led an investment group that spent $35 million to open what was intended to be a $142 million thoroughbred track on 320 acres at Pennsylvania and Vining roads, a mile southwest of Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Pinnacle, modeled after Churchill Downs, lasted three years and was only partially complete before it succumbed to both the recession and the decline in horse racing interest. Today, the track is abandoned and overgrown.

Important links below:

Article from 2008 when the track opened. Promises, promises, promises…jobs, jobs, jobs:

Horse tracks closing and revenue in freefall:

ooops…property goes to auction with upaid property tax bill: