ThistleDown Racino has increased the 2015 purse for the Ohio Derby to a record high of $500,000. In addition, daily purses at the 90-year-old track will average $130,000.
M. Y. Stables' homebred Plain Ol' Willard, already a winner of more than $150,000, padded his bankroll in a big way with a come-from-behind upset win in the $150,000 Best of Ohio Endurance Stakes Oct. 11 at Belterra Park.
The Best of Ohio returns to the former River Downs for the first time since the mid-1990s Oct. 11 when Belterra Park hosts five Ohio-bred stakes worth a total of $750,000.
Fifty-one horses are entered in the five races that make up the Best of Ohio, an event that figures to benefit in future years from video lottery terminal revenue.
Norm Barron, a prominent horseman and regulator in Ohio, died June 5 at 74 after an illness.
The Ohio Derby, with a smaller purse and lower grade, will be run July 31, Thistledown officials said.
The Ohio Derby (gr. II), returned to the Thistledown stakes schedule only six weeks ago upon order of the Ohio State Racing Commission, has drawn a field of 13, including the winner of a $1-million race in his previous start.
Thirty-two nominations are pretty good for a race that, up until six weeks ago, wasn't even on the schedule. Thistledown officials Sept. 23 said that's the number of nominees for the grade II Ohio Derby Oct. 3. The purse is $150,000, down from $300,000 last year.
The Ohio State Racing Commission Aug. 20 brought the grade II Ohio Derby back to the schedule this year by ordering a reduction of five live racing days at Thistledown, traditional host for the only graded stakes in the Buckeye State.
Bruce Ryan and the Blazing Meadows Farm's 42-1 shot Smarmy concluded a day of upsets in the 2007 renewal of the Best of Ohio series at Beulah Park with an impressive victory in the $100,000 Best of Ohio Endurance on Saturday.
A decrease in handle in Ohio so far this year has led the Ohio State Racing Commission to reduce funding for the Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund.
Devil Time claimed the distinction as the best horse in Ohio Saturday with the largest winning margin ever in the 17-year history of the $100,000 Best of Ohio Endurance Championship at Beulah Park in Grove City.
The Ohio Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry has taken serious hits in recent years because of competition for the gambling dollar, but there should be a bright spot Oct. 4 when one of the strongest Best of Ohio championship programs in recent memory is offered at Beulah Park.
Prominent Ohio owner/breeder George Smith, barred from Beulah Park when he categorized it as the worst of Ohio earlier this year, said he isn't sure whether he'll be on hand at the Grove City track Oct. 4 for the Best of Ohio championship series. Owner Charlie Ruma banned him this spring.
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