River Downs near Cincinnati plans to open for live racing May 13, two weeks later than scheduled because of severe Ohio River flooding.
A week before the original April 29 opening day horses were evacuated from the barn area because floodwaters limited access to the riverside racetrack. The horses were permitted back on the grounds about a week later.
Dave Basler, executive director of the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said May 5 horsemen and track management met to discuss the situation. Opening day is set, with training scheduled to resume May 10.
“We hope to have horses on the track for training (May 10) depending on what the weather does this weekend,” Basler said. “They’re working on the main track now.
The dirt surface, which was under water, had been cleared off but still too soft for maintenance to begin earlier.
Through May 8, 10 live racing programs will have been lost this year. The Ohio HBPA will meet May 10 to discuss options, though Basler said horsemen’s representatives agreed with River Downs to hike purses $300 a race in addition to the previously scheduled $300 bonus when a field of at least seven horses leaves the paddock.
With purses expected to average about $37,000 a day, Basler said the per-race boost is “fairly significant.”
River Downs has a new first post time of 3 p.m. EDT on Fridays. First post Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays is 1 p.m.
River Downs reopened for full-card simulcasts April 29 when access to the grandstand was restored.