Wild Weather Brutal for Beulah Park

The freeze-thaw cycle has wreaked havoc with the racing surface at Beulah Park.

Rollercoaster weather conditions continue to plague Beulah Park, which canceled live racing March 5. It was the fourth consecutive full or partial card that was canceled, and dates lost during the meet are in the double digits.

The Columbus, Ohio, area has been hit by storm after storm as well as fluctuating temperatures that have subjected the racing surface to a freeze-thaw cycle. When heavy rain and warm temperatures hit March 3, the surface was rendered unsuitable for racing, track officials said.

Live racing is scheduled for March 7 should track conditions permit. Beulah Park management, to compensate for some lost days, added live racing on Friday afternoons during March.

The track is open seven days a week for full-card simulcasts. Under a deal with neighboring Scioto Downs, a harness track, Beulah Park is the only track in the area open for simulcasts during its live meet; Scioto Downs gets all simulcasts when it opens for live racing in May.

Having day/night simulcasts has led to a 23.1% increase in total on-site handle at Beulah Park in 2008 compared with 2007 through March 1 of each year. The track handled more than $10.45 million the first two months of this year versus $8.49 million last year.

Despite the handle bump and lost racing days on which purse money accrues from simulcasts, purses at Beulah Park haven’t been raised during the current meet. For 34 racing days so far this year, purses have averaged $35,312 per day, down 22.7% from $45,717 for the same period last year.

Officials noted Beulah Park overpaid purses last year and is attempting to catch up. Also, in Ohio, racetracks get 1% off the top of any host fees paid for their signals. So, if a 3% host fee is paid for the Beulah Park signal, the track gets 2% and horsemen 1% for purses. In many other jurisdictions, the fees are split 50/50 between tracks and horsemen.

In addition, overall handle in Ohio is down about 12% this year compared with 2007. That means there is less money in the "dark day" simulcast pool for the state's tracks to share for purses.