10/23/2013 12:51PM

River Downs being renamed Belterra Park, scheduled to reopen May 1

John Engelhardt
The main track at the former River Downs has been relocated and a casino is under construction.

CINCINNATI, Ohio – River Downs, which did not race this year with a casino under construction on the property, will reopen May 1 of next year and be renamed Belterra Park, according to Kevin Kaufman, the general manager and vice president of the racetrack and casino.

“We will keep with the River Downs tradition, and the OTB section of our entertainment area will be called the River Downs Club,” he said. “It will be at the center of the building.”

Kaufman will go in front of the Ohio Racing Commission on Thursday and request 100 days of racing, beginning May 8, 2014 and continuing through Oct. 19. Belterra will request to race four days a week, Thursday through Sunday. Kaufman said he and the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association are in agreement on the dates.

The announcement of the new name and dates were made at a Wednesday media conference in the former clubhouse of River Downs. The River Downs grandstand was torn down earlier this year to make way for the new casino. The facility is owned by Pinnacle Entertainment, which also owns the Belterra Casino in Florence Ind., approximately 55 miles from River Downs.

The River Downs main track is being relocated approximately a sixteenth of a mile from its previous site and a new turf course is being built. Kaufman said he didn’t expect the turf course to be ready until 2015. He said the turf course will have a state of the art Mawsafe inner safety rail from Australia.

“We will be only the second track in the U.S. to have the rail,” he said. “Del Mar is the only other.”

Fifty percent of the barns will be new, according to Kaufman.

“We will have 1,020 stalls and another 40 in the receiving barn,” he said. “Half of the barns are brand new and we listened to the horsemen’s advisers as to what they wanted. They will be the safest possible for the horses.”