04/16/2002 11:00PM

Thistledown track report

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NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Thistledown is going solo this meet for the first time in nine years. The 7&7 racing format, which had the track sharing a simulcast signal with either Beulah Park or River Downs, has been dropped.

Opening day this year was March 29, eight days earlier than 2001's opening. Through the first 11 days of racing, 84 races have been run this year versus 85 last season, and a total of $l,455,149 has been bet ontrack on the live races, an increase of approximately $50,000.

Money wagered offtrack on Thistledown's races is a different story. In 2001, $5,765,711 was bet offtrack through the first 11 days of the meet. This year the figure is $4,683,026, a decrease of $1,082,685, approximately $90,000 less daily.

Thistledown now offers eight races on Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays and seven races on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Other changes implemented at the beginning of this year's meet included a switch in post time from 12:55 p.m. Eastern to 1:30 p.m. and a time interval of 35 minutes between races, which has since been reduced to 30 minutes.

The reduced time between races is designed to keep ontrack bettors focused on Thistledown's live races rather than out-of-state simulcast races.

In addition to reducing the amount of time between races, management is considering making others changes to improve the new format's effectiveness.