03/27/2013 4:08PM

River Downs-at-Beulah meet in jeopardy


Ohio’s Thoroughbred horsemen and the owners of Beulah Park have been unable to reach an agreement that would enable River Downs to run its 2013 meet at Beulah, according to officials for the track and the state’s racing commission.

The lack of an agreement is jeopardizing a proposal to run 65 days at Beulah outside of Columbus beginning in mid-May to make up for lost race days at River Downs, which was torn down earlier this year. Officials for the horsemen and Beulah’s owner, Penn National Gaming Inc., stated at an Ohio Racing Commission meeting on Wednesday that negotiations on the deal have been unsuccessful.

Regardless of the lack of a deal, the racing commission passed a resolution authorizing a 65-day meet at Beulah during River’s traditional race days in case the two sides can come to a deal by the commission’s “first meeting in April,” the resolution states. Ohio statutes require tracks to file an application “at least five days” prior to a meet starting, so the passage of the resolution allows the commission to put pressure on the two sides to come to an agreement within the next month.

Chris McErlean, the vice president of racing for Penn National, said on Wednesday after the meeting that Penn was attempting to get a broad agreement from horsemen on not only the 2013 River dates at Beulah Park, but also on the amenities that would be offered to horsemen at a new track in Youngstown if the company is successful in getting approval to move Beulah to that city. That has complicated the negotiations.

Representatives of the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association did not return phone calls on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the plans to relocate Beulah – and plans to relocate two other tracks in Ohio – have also stalled. At the Wednesday meeting, the commission declined to approve the plans unless the track owners add seating to the new facilities, which will all be attached to casinos. Horsemen and commissioners have criticized the plans over the past several months, saying that the track owners are not devoting enough attention or space to the horseracing parts of the facilities.

The commission specifically said that Penn National must add 650 seats “in an enclosed, climate-controlled area” to its racetrack facility before the plans would be approved. McErlean said that adding the seats would exceed the “footprint” of the current blueprints and delay the project to build the new track and casino by four to six months.

“We’re going to go back and take a look at what can be done from a design point-of-view,” McErlean said.

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Psy Power More than 1 year ago
Great point -- why are three Thoroughbred tracks needed in such a racing outpost like Ohio. But the race tracks were used by major out-of-state gambling interests to gain a monopoly in expanded gaming in the state......it seems the biggest bet at the window should be predicting the year when the report hits the governor's desk that horse racing has no tangible economic future for the majority of track owners and nearly all racinos must be converted to casinos, ASAP.
joseph More than 1 year ago
All these small tracks should just get out. I dream of a national circuit with about 10 tracks all taking turns during the year, with fresh turf courses and overflowing fields, the enitire countries handle co-mingled into giant pools, creating 1 million in daily purses .Its the kind of thing that can put us back on the map and into the sports pages again, wont happen but I can dream.
john p More than 1 year ago
That would be nice joe,but you need claiming horse's at a racetrack. The business would go under,if it were all stake and allowance races.You got to look at the big picture! You way of thinking with 10 tracks, with top end horses ,they would ran races 2 days a month!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good luck keeping enough owners in the game with that plan! Can't always be about the handicapper. Once all you people realize it's about the owners, everything else would get better instead of worse!
Steve More than 1 year ago
Great idea Joseph. If everything was done the way you would personally like it this would be a perfect world...for you.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Why move a horrid meet with horrid class animals to a "new" track. No doubt similar to the new track in North Western PA near the NY boarder. Just a Racino. But, Youngstown, is a penny less city, with no patrons with any cash to speak of, It's a poor town, whereas Columbus is a thriving city with a good work and income base. Much better to build a new track in Columbus where folks can enjoy the races. Only folks in Youngstown who have cash are family friends of of SF 49'ers owner and in the trach removal business.
cbino456 More than 1 year ago
Once again Ohio is behind the times. I was a horse owner 30 yrs ago and the purses were better then they are now.Get with it OHIO. Three tracks running at the same time is a joke. Beu, Rd, and Td running at the same time is a joke. I refuse to bet Ohio races. Get with it OHIO.
cbino456 More than 1 year ago
Once Again Ohio Horse/ Men. Women are behind the times. The public is sick of looking at 2500K claimers. I live in Ohio and I refuse to bet horses running at TD, RD, Beu., and I was a owner in the 70-80's... Guess I will try to get a NY bred