12/19/2008 12:00AM

Ohio approves full 2009 schedule


The Ohio State Racing Commission approved live racing dates for the state's Thoroughbred tracks on Friday following an earlier agreement between horsemen and tracks to restore 160 dates to the calendar.

Under the approved schedule, Beulah Park near Columbus will begin its live race meet on Jan. 10 and race through May 2. River Downs in Cincinnati and Thistledown will race from May to September, and Beulah will hold another live race meet from Oct. 13 to Dec. 23.

Ohio horsemen and racetracks have been feuding for months over the 2009 dates and the amount of money from account wagering that goes to purses. Because of the dispute, Beulah Park earlier this year pared its 2009 dates request to a short Thoroughbred meet in the fall, and River Downs asked to hold only a Quarter Horse meet. The commission had approved those dates.

Earlier this week, however, the tracks and horsemen reached an agreement on account-wagering rights that prompted the tracks to revise their dates requests. In addition to the restored dates, the agreement, for one year, will restore the signals from Ohio tracks to the four national account-wagering platforms: Television Games Network, Twinspires.com, XpressBet, and Youbet.com.

Michael Weiss, the general manager of Beulah Park, declined to provide details of the account-wagering agreement but said that the contract is for the 2009 calendar year.

Prior to reaching the agreement earlier this week, Beulah had told horsemen that it would close the racetrack for training until the fall 2009 meet, which would have forced the relocation of approximately 1,000 horses on the track's backstretch. With the new schedule, trainers will be able to remain on the grounds.

Officials of the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association did not return phone calls on Friday.