ThistleDown Racino announced Aug. 27 it will increase purses another 5%, starting with a special Labor Day race card Sept. 1. With the increase, purses will average $110,000 each racing day at the Cleveland, Ohio, area track.
With revenues from slot video lottery terminals, ThistleDown opened the 122-day season with purses that were 28% higher than last year. The latest increase is the second since the meet began April 18.
The Ohio Derby, won by East Hall July 19, carried a purse of $300,000, triple the previous $100,000 purse.
"Since the addition of video lottery terminals at ThistleDown, horse racing has seen an increase in fans and wagering," said Patrick Ellsworth, racing secretary at ThistleDown. "With this latest boost to the purses, we expect even more fan interaction at the track."
ThistleDown said the higher purse levels had increased field sizes and allowed the track to resume exporting its simulcast signal to other racetracks. Through the first 75 days of this year's meet, field sizes have averaged 7.56 horses per race, compared with 7.44 through the same period a year ago, according to the Jockey Club Information Systems.
With the latest increase, purses in low-level races will see an additional $300-$500. Mid-level competitions will rise by $1,000 per race and higher level races will see a hike of $1,500 per race.
Meanwhile, Belterra Park, the former River Downs that opened for racing and gaming in May, announced Aug. 26 a 20% reduction in purses, effective Aug. 30.
LaMarra: Belterra Park Planning 20% Purse Reduction
ThistleDown opened April 9, 2013 as a racino following an $89 million renovation that added a gaming floor with more than 1,100 VLTs, six dining options, two bars, and Ohio's first gaming patio. Included in the renovation was a $1 million upgrade to the wagering floor, which added more than 150 high-definition, 60-inch, flat screen TVs.
ThistleDown recently announced it will remain in its current location in North Randall, Ohio, which is an eastern suburb of Cleveland. The state of Ohio provided an option for the racetrack to move to the Akron/Canton area, but owners Rock Ohio Caesars ultimately decided that Cuyahoga County was the best location for ThistleDown.