11/25/2014 11:25AM

Mahoning Valley handles $508,189 on opening day


The first program in the history of Mahoning Valley Race Course in Austintown, Ohio, went off without a hitch Monday, with all-sources handle reported at $508,189 for an eight-race card.

The winner of the first race in track history was Baby Time, a 7-year-old gelding who returned $6.40 as the favorite in a field of 12 after finishing a mile and 70 yards in 1:49.52 over a fast track. Luis Colon was aboard for trainer Hugh McMahon.

The connections of Baby Time, who was claimed from the race for $4,000 by owner Billy Hays, were presented with a commemorative blanket as the first winner. All eight winners on the day received carrots and a bouquet of roses. The card was preceded by a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included numerous local dignitaries, including Robert K. Schmitz, chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission.

John McGary, race-caller and spokesman for the new track near Youngstown, said $63,503 was wagered ontrack on live racing on a windy, overcast afternoon. Attendance is not officially counted, although officials gave an estimate of 1,500.

Mahoning Valley is a racino with a one-mile, dirt-only track and more than 1,000 permanent seats encased in two stories for race viewing. The section of the racino with video lottery terminals opened Sept. 17. Penn National Gaming spent roughly $250 million to open Mahoning Valley, which replaces Beulah Park on the Ohio circuit.

For the corresponding date last year, Beulah, with its signal far more familiar in the simulcast market, attracted an all-sources handle of $824,256.

Mahoning Valley will run 85 dates through April 25 on a mostly four-day-a-week basis. About 700 of the nearly 1,000 stalls in the stable area are currently filled, according to racing secretary Ed Vomacka. Purses are scheduled to average about $65,000 per program, with an upward adjustment expected.