River Downs to Open With a Different Kind of Race

River Downs near Cincinnati, Ohio, will open April 12 with up to 78 horses--and perhaps 300 people--on the track.

The horses are entered in eight races on the first of 122 programs during the meet, which runs through Sept. 1. But also on opening day, River Downs will host its first "Run for LaRosa's," a five-kilometer foot race to benefit Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The latest reports have about 300 people registered for the race on the main track. LaRosa's is a local pizza and sandwich chain that is partnering with the racetrack.

Post time April 12 is 2 p.m. With some exceptions, racing will be held every day but Wednesday with a 12:55 p.m. first post.

"We showed increases in both on-track attendance and handle last season, and plan to keep the momentum going," River Downs publicist John Engelhardt said. "We've always had a steady base of loyal fans, but I believe our efforts at attracting a younger audience to the track is paying off. Many of our promotions are appealing to college-age fans or couples with kids."

Ed Vomacka, currently the racing secretary at Beulah Park, will serve in the same position at River Downs. He takes over for Gary Wilfert, who is now a racing official in Indiana. Bill Downs and Brian DeJong, the announcer and simulcast coordinator at Beulah, respectively, will also move on to River Downs. Sean Beirne, who doubled as announcer and vice president of simulcast operations, now works for Evangeline Downs in Louisiana.

River Downs will have 13 stakes in 2003, highlighted by the $100,000 Pepsi Bassinet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies Aug. 30 and the $200,000 Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes for 2-year-olds Sept. 1.