04/16/2013 4:52PM

Penn National, Ohio horsemen still lack agreement


The Ohio State Racing Commission on Tuesday tabled a vote on whether to approve an agreement to run River Downs’ traditional live racing dates at Beulah Park, citing the lack of a deal between Beulah and horsemen, according to the executive director of the state’s horsemen’s group.

Dave Basler, head of the horsemen’s group, said that horsemen and Beulah’s parent company, Penn National Gaming Inc., have yet to reach an agreement on dates and backside accommodations on a track that Penn plans to build in Youngstown to replace Beulah beginning in 2014. However, he said he believed the two sides would reach the deal prior to May 18, the statutory deadline for approving the meet.

“We’re in ongoing discussion,” Basler said Tuesday after the morning racing commission meeting. “I’m optimistic that we can complete an agreement within a timely fashion.”

Horsemen are hoping to run at least 65 dates at Beulah outside of Columbus this year after River Downs was torn down earlier this year to make way for a new slot-machine and racetrack casino on the property. River’s owners hope to have the facility up and running by next year.

Discussions between horsemen and Penn National have centered on the number of race dates that Penn will card at the new Beulah facility in 2014 and the accommodations its backstretch will have for horsemen and their employees. Penn and other racetrack operators in Ohio also have faced recent questioning by state racing commissioners over the size of the grandstand at several new facilities being built to capitalize on state authorization to install slot machines at racetracks.

River Downs has traditionally run from May until Labor Day. The owners of River Downs, Pinnacle Entertainment, and Penn National have already reached an agreement on the meet, but commissioners said they would not approve the agreement until Penn reaches a pact with horsemen.

This is the second time the commission has deferred any action on approving the meet this year.

Mike Hummel More than 1 year ago
"Low end nags running for higher purses" is a great betting opportunity for some. I happen to enjoy a full field of maiden 5's a whole lot more than a classified allowance with 5 horses. Additionally, those "minor circuits" make up a large contingent of the bettors who pump simulcasting dollars into the major circuits. Strong minor circuits make for strong larger circuits. The money that is bet annually at River Downs, for example, is not an insignificant amount.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Such a minor cricuit, who does this effect, certaintly not the bettors, who'd much rather bet on larger fields with a better class of animal. Who cares?
Patrick De Vito More than 1 year ago
BIG effect on Ohio horsemen and the Ohio Horsemen industry/breeding employees. Larger fields and better class animals will follow; once Slots start triggering revenue. Look at the BIG turnarounds at Mnr, Sunland, CT, etc.....now coming up with $1 million dollar plus races. Plenty of people care!!
CHris SChott More than 1 year ago
I enjoy Ohio racing myself and only expect it to get better with the slots enhanced purses. Big fields and stakes races are awesome...but they can't compare to live racing. So Ohio racing is good for people from Ohio.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Chris, only OH racing worth betting was RD meet about 7 or 9 years ago. Other than that, your buying into a dream that won't come true. Do you actually think new barns will come to OH. Think again, it will be the same low end nags, running for higher purse.
Seth Romero More than 1 year ago
I don't see anything good at Mnr their purses have really gone down the drain
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Patrick, see comment to Chris below, it's gonna be the same nags running for higher purse. No changes. Your buying into a dream.
steve More than 1 year ago
you're absolutley correct Bruce,the purses will go up but the level of horses will stay the same.Perhaps the breeding will benefit a bit only if owners breed to quality stallions.At mountaineer for example,the purses were 35% higher 10 years ago,with these racinos going up like gas stations anymore,the only way most of them will be able to maintain a high purse structure is to cut either races or racing days or maybe even both.The $5000 maiden and non winners of 2 races lifetime is the worst field of horses in the country.The bottom line is a not so gifted horse is just that,just because they run for overinflated purses doesn't change that