No Thoroughbred Dates at 2 Ohio Tracks?

Beulah Park and River Downs, two Ohio Thoroughbred tracks that race more than 200 dates combined, have requested only Quarter Horse dates for 2009, a track official said Aug. 18.

Mike Weiss, general manager at Beulah Park near Columbus, said the decision wasn’t easy, but financial considerations led to the request. Beulah Park, in a request submitted to the Ohio State Racing Commission, has asked for 24 Quarter Horse dates and no Thoroughbred racing in 2009.

Weiss said the economic climate has made it difficult to continue Thoroughbred racing. Beulah Park traditionally races the fall and winter dates in Ohio.

Beulah Park and River Downs sold the AmericaTAB advance deposit wagering service to Churchill Downs Inc. for more than $35 million in 2007. Weiss said revenue from AmericaTAB handle helped keep the tracks in business.

“We’re trying to take it year by year,” Weiss said. “The ADW (platform) helped keep Beulah Park and River Downs in business for years. Now, it’s a matter of survival.”

When asked what needs to be done to maintain Thoroughbred racing, Weiss said: “I don’t know. Right now, we’re sitting down and trying to see how to make this work.”

River Downs general manager Jack Hanessian couldn’t be reached for comment late in the afternoon of Aug. 18. River Downs offers about 105 days of Thoroughbred racing from mid-April through Labor Day.

Weiss said by racing Quarter Horses, Beulah Park could continue offering full-card simulcasts next year and offer a “nice little meet” with the purse money that has accrued. Beulah Park has offered limited Quarter Horse racing each year in conjunction with the Quarter Horse Congress held in Columbus in the fall.

The OSRC is expected to address the requests for dates at its meeting Aug. 21.