Ohio’s Thistledown racetrack posted a 44% jump in on-track handle, from about $83,000 to $120,000, on its Saturday, April 23 opening day card when compared to last year’s opener, on a Friday. On-track handle from all sources was up 26%. The track presented eight live races on opening day both years.
“I couldn’t be happier with the success of opening day,” said general manager Lee Dillard. “From people here for their 48th opening day to first-timers, we had a great turnout with great races, giveaways and drink specials. We are planning lots of other activities for the season, and I want to say thank you to all who came out and gave us a look on Saturday.”
Like other tracks in the Ohio Valley, the Cleveland area oval has been saturated with rain this year. April precipitation in Cleveland now totals a record 6.72 inches, almost four inches above normal. The unusual weather has created challenges for the keepers of Thistledown’s dirt track, which was rated fast on opening day and sloppy/sealed on April 25.
Track superintendent John Banno said, “It was a lot of work the whole month—we were open for training before the meet started—and a lot of challenges. The crew worked hard and did a great job, and on opening day Mother Nature helped us out with some wind and sun.”