Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort
Roadside view of the casino
|Location||Newell, West Virginia|
|Owned by||MTR Gaming Group|
|Date opened||May 19, 1951|
|Notable races||West Virginia Derby|
|Area||77 acres (31 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||December 12, 2002|
Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort is a thoroughbred racetrack and casino resort southwest of Chester, West Virginia (Wellsville, Ohio, across the Ohio River is actually closer), owned and operated by MTR Gaming Group.
History and information
Originally to be known as Waterford Downs, the track's parent company was incorporated in 1937. The effort was led by Al Boyle, president of the Charles Town Races, who named it after his family's ancestral home of Waterford, Ireland. The company's initial public offering was approved in February 1939, with the track expected to open the following September. By August 1940, construction had not begun, but 250 acres of land had been bought or optioned. In 1942, Boyle planned to begin construction of the track, but expected the grandstand to be delayed at least until 1943 by a steel shortage due to World War II.
The track was purchased by Bill Blair and renamed as Mountaineer Park in 1987. In 1992, Blair sold the track to California-based Excalibur Holding Co. for $4 million cash plus $2.7 million in stock. The track was authorized to have slot machines and installed them in 1994. Excalibur was renamed Winners Entertainment, then renamed MTR Gaming Group.
With the revenue that a casino of 3,200 slots, table games, and a hotel resort provides, the track is able to offer very good purses. The reputation of the track changed from being one of an old, run-down facility which raced only claimers to a track which was decent and respectable.
Mountaineer's image is further enhanced by nationwide coverage of the track's West Virginia Derby, a Grade II race that has significantly grown in stature and purse in the past decade. The first Saturday in August traditionally has been the day the Derby takes place, and is the only day of the calendar that the track offers afternoon racing. Otherwise, the races are run at night, at 7pm (Eastern Time).
Mountaineer announced the opening of 50 casino table games for December 20, 2007, including blackjack, three card poker, and roulette.
The track has a main dirt track with a one mile oval. The turf course is seven furlongs long and inside the dirt. The track is curved slightly in the front stretch. The track also has a large casino and resort on site.
With the construction of the casino and resort at Mountaineer, the quality of racing has increased hugely. It is one of the busiest Thoroughbred courses in the country with 217 racing dates scheduled for 2012.Mountaineer generally runs 5 nights per week from March through December. The track has been able to offer purses much higher than those in neighboring states and thus have attracted larger field and the products of such a higher parimutuel handle and better attendance. Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort had been considered as a possible host for the 2009 Breeders' Cup, but it was awarded to Santa Anita. The track runs many stakes and overnight handicaps. Here, in order, are the stakes that ran at Mountaineer in 2005:
- Coca-Cola Independence Day Stakes
- Firecracker Stakes
- Mountain State Stakes
- West Virginia Derby (Grade II)
- West Virginia Governor's Stakes
- Harvey Arneault Memorial Breeders' Cup Stakes
- West Virginia Senate President's Breeders' Cup
- West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker's Cup
- West Virginia Legislature Chairman's Cup
- West Virginia Secretary of State
- Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes
- Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies Stakes
- Fall Stakes
- Autumn Leaves Stakes
- Mountaineer Mile Handicap
- Sophomore Sprint Championship Stakes
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- "New race track given state O.K.". Washington Post. October 10, 1937. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- Bill Bennings (December 4, 1938). "At the Post". Washington Post. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- "New West Va. track sanctioned by SEC". Washington Post. February 17, 1939. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- "$500,000 race track work is set to begin this month". Youngstown Vindicator. August 4, 1940.
- "Tract bought for race plant". Youngstown Vindicator. January 2, 1942.
- Walter Haight (July 26, 1948). "Night flat racing not new in Md.". Washington Post. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- "Potpourri". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 28, 1950.
- "Bill Bennings". Washington Post. May 18, 1951. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- "Tamale first at new track". New York Times. May 20, 1951. – via ProQuest (subscription required)
- Tony Pierro (June 2, 1997). "Mountaineer Race Track a runaway success". State Journal (Charleston, WV). – via Factiva (subscription required)
- "Owner Of Waterford selling out". Beaver County Times. January 17, 1969.
- Stephen Babich (June 30, 1987). "New name, new bets at track". Pittsburgh Press.
- "Sale of Mountaineer Park will stand". Williamson Daily News. AP. December 1, 1992.
- MTR Gaming Group Company Profile
- '09 Breeders' Cup to be held at Santa Anita