Thistledown Suspends Ohio Derby in 2009

Thistledown Suspends Ohio Derby in 2009
Photo: JJ Zamaiko
Smooth Air Won the Ohio Derby in 2008.

Ohio won’t host its only graded stakes this year.

Thistledown, at the suggestion of the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, has suspended the $300,000 Ohio Derby (gr. II) for 3-year-olds, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The race was to have its 75th running in 2009.

Thistledown general manager Brent Reitz told the Plain Dealer management agreed with horsemen to scrap the race this year to “help secure a solid purse structure and maintain a good, full season of racing opportunities.” Horsemen told the newspaper the local purse account is short about $300,000, and off-season simulcast revenue is down almost 20%.

Thistledown has not yet released its first condition book or its 2009 stakes schedule, but the Cleveland-area track is expected to host the Best of Ohio championship series for state-bred horses in early October.

Thistledown is owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early March. The track has been on the market for a few years.

With the Ohio Derby on the shelf, the state’s richest Thoroughbred race is now the $200,000 Budweiser Select Cradle Stakes for 2-year-olds on the turf at River Downs. The race currently has no grade, though it was a grade III test in the past.

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