Report: Major Dates Reduction Sought in Ohio

The chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission is ready to tackle a long-simmering issue: reduction of live racing dates in the Buckeye state.

Scott Borgemenke, who took over as head of the commission earlier this year, held a conference call Aug. 31 with representatives of racetracks and horsemen's groups for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. He has advocated a circuit for both breeds that would reduce dates and eliminate overlaps.

According to a report in the Columbus Dispatch, hundreds of live racing dates would be eliminated under the proposal. Ohio has seven racetracks, three Thoroughbred and four Standardbred, many of which race at the same time.

Though some industry representatives have argued for fewer racing dates to help the horse population and purse structures, others have fought it. In addition, a state law that divvies up dark-day simulcast revenue awards more money to tracks that offer more live racing.

Two Thoroughbred tracks generally are open at the same time in Ohio, and from mid-April to early May, all three--Beulah Park, River Downs, and Thistledown--are open. Three harness tracks are usually open at the same time in Ohio.

Ohio racing has taken a beating from neighboring states with racetracks that benefit from alternative gaming revenue. Handle and purses continue to decline.