Loose Ends Slow Transfer of Ohio Race Dates

Beulah Park was approved for 88 days in 2013; River Downs remains in limbo.

Beulah Park and the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have agreed on 2013 live racing days, but approval of a shift of the River Downs meet to Beulah Park remains on hold.

Chris McErlean, vice president of racing for Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns Beulah Park, said the company's request for an 88-day meet was accepted by horsemen and approved by the Ohio State Racing Commission Dec. 13. Beulah Park will race 68 days from Jan. 7-May 3 and 22 days (two for Quarter Horses) from Nov. 2-Dec. 19.

The track was awarded 117 racing days for 2012.

The OSRC deferred action on the River Downs dates pending receipt of further information. Sources said there is an agreement but contract-related issues must be finalized.

Beulah Park as usual will race from early January through early May. The Columbus-area track will begin its fall meet in early November and race through late December.

The River Downs-at-Beulah Park meet, if approved, would begin in late May and run through September. Roughly 65 days would be added to the Beulah schedule; River Downs this year raced 90 days.

It's possible the River Downs dates won't be approved before the end of the year, an OSRC spokesman said.

Pinnacle Entertainment, which owns River Downs, expects the Cincinnati-area track to be a construction site for much of next year. The company plans to demolish existing structures and build a facility to accommodate racing, video lottery terminals, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Meanwhile, Thistledown near Cleveland was granted 122 racing days from May 3-Nov. 16. Owner Rock Ohio Gaming plans to have VLTs operating at the track by the summer of 2013.