08/21/2009 12:00AM

Panel orders Ohio Derby run


The Ohio Racing Commission on Thursday directed Thistledown to reinstate the Grade 2 Ohio Derby and to run the race on Oct. 3. According to the track's general manager, Brent Reitz, Thistledown intends to do so.

Thistledown and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association agreed in March to cancel the $300,000 stakes to conserve purse money for overnight races. Although the track and horsemen had discussed ways to reinstate the race with a lesser purse, the two sides had been unable to reach an agreement.

"At the beginning of the meet we agreed to help out the horsemen, at their request, and to cancel the race," Reitz said. "Now that the commission has told us to run it, they are the ones that make the rules, and we are going to go ahead and run the Ohio Derby."

At its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, the racing commission instructed Thistledown to run the Ohio Derby with a $150,000 purse, the smallest allowed for the race to keep its Grade 2 ranking, and for Thistledown to cut five cards from its current 122-day meet and to use the saved money from the horsemen's purse account to fund the race.

Reitz said Thistledown does plan to eliminate five days from its meet but has not yet decided which ones would be canceled.

Dave Basler, the executive director of the horsemen's association, declined to comment on the situation on the advice of his legal counsel.