12/17/2012 2:26PM

Beulah Park and River Downs reach dates agreement


The owners of Beulah Park and River Downs in Ohio have reached a tentative agreement to run 65 days of live racing at Beulah under the River license in 2013, according to an official involved in the discussion.

Chris McErlean, the vice president of racing for Beulah’s owner, Penn National Gaming Inc., said that the deal still needs to be vetted by lawyers and presented to the state’s horsemen before it can be finalized. But he said the deal resolves all of the “financial and logistical issues” surrounding the 65-day meet, which would be held when River traditionally runs its meet, from late spring to early fall.

“A lot of the hurdles have been overcome,” McErlean said.

Horsemen had pushed the owners of the tracks to come to a deal after River’s parent, Pinnacle Gaming – which, like Penn National, is a casino company – announced plans to demolish the track to rebuild another track and casino in the same location. The demolition will take place this spring, so Pinnacle canceled any plans for a meet at River this year.

Officials for Pinnacle did not respond to requests for comment.

The state’s racing commission had also pressed the companies to reach a deal. Last week, the commission approved 88 Thoroughbred dates for Beulah in two meets, from Jan. 9-May 4 and Nov. 18-Dec. 22. Thistledown, the third Thoroughbred track in Ohio, received approval for 122 days, from April 19-Nov. 17.