Courtesy of ThistleDown

ThistleDown Opening Day Set for April 18

Northeast Ohio track will open 122-day race season on April 18.

The trainers are exercising their horses and ThistleDown is putting the finishing touches on the apron as the opening of the 2014 racing season draws near. 

ThistleDown's 2014 racing season will include 122 race days and will culminate on November 16. As in previous years, ThistleDown's premium race of the season will be the Ohio Derby on July 19, but ThistleDown also has added five additional Ohio-bred stakes races this year. 

Excitement has been building for ThistleDown's upcoming racing season since the track announced that its purses had grown by 28 percent and its famed Ohio Derby would carry a purse of $300,000, triple the size of that purse last year. 

"Horse racing is gaining momentum in Northeast Ohio as younger generations discover the sport for the first time and older generations return to the track," said Patrick Ellsworth, racing secretary at ThistleDown. "We expect ThistleDown's 2014 racing season to be one of the best in recent years."

Among the notable horses returning this year is Needmore Flattery, the 2013 Ohio Horse of the Year. Owned by Bruce Ryan and Blazing Meadows Farm, this dynamic three-year-old filly won all six of her Ohio races last year, including five stakes races.  

ThistleDown reopened on April 9, 2013 as a racino following an $89 million renovation that added a gaming floor with more than 1,000 video lottery terminals (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 for horse racing enthusiasts to enjoy both live and year-round simulcast racing action.