04/23/2008 12:00AM

Track fills races despite obstacles


River Downs has been able to fill its races every day despite a variety of obstacles.

River Downs is running nine days by itself this April, when in the past the track was part of the 7&7 program with Thistledown, meaning River is running more races than in the past.

Indiana Downs, which opens Friday, is only 1 1/2 hours away, giving horsemen another option.

Horsemen at Thistledown who would normally enter at River Downs are instead waiting for the opening of that track this year, as well as the opening of Presque Isle Downs, which is only 1 1/2 hours away from Thistledown. Presque Isle has enhanced purses from slots.

"Some people are just waiting on other places to open," according to Jeff Riedel, acting assistant racing secretary until Tim Richardson arrives when Beulah Park closes on Derby Day. "Indiana Downs, Churchill, Thistledown, and Presque Isle are all getting ready to open, Beulah is still open, and guys are trying to find the best spots for their horses."

During the first 10 days of its meet, River Downs has averaged 7.6 horses per race.

"The races will fill better when Beulah closes next week," Riedel said. "All of our stalls are promised."

Beulah Park and River Downs share the same racing secretary and assistant racing secretary, Ed Vomacka and Richardson.

"Sharing a racing secretary really helps," Riedel said. "Ed does a great job making sure similar races aren't being run at both tracks close together."