|Location||North Randall, Ohio|
|Owned by||Caesars Entertainment and Rock Gaming|
|Notable races||Ohio Derby|
Thistledown Racino is a thoroughbred race track and casino in North Randall, Ohio at the outskirts of the city of Cleveland. It is owned and operated by a joint venture of Caesars Entertainment and Rock Gaming.
History and Information
The track came under the regulation of the Ohio Racing Commission in 1931 when it was formed. The track is the home of the Ohio Derby, the only graded stakes race in Ohio.
The track races under the Ohio 7/7 Program which means that live racing is held at two locations in the state at the same time. During the summer Thistledown races seven races on a card and River Downs races the other seven. In September, Beulah Park takes over for River Downs. Ohio racing is dark January to March. The track has declined in recent years due to summertime competition and the lack of slot machines that neighboring tracks have.
In 2007, Thistledown's parent company, Magna Entertainment, announced that the racetrack was for sale. As a result of staggering losses in which Magna Entertainment reported net losses of $87.4 million in 2006, $105.3 million in 2005 and $95.6 million in 2004, and has an accumulated deficit of $393.8 million as of March 31, 2007, Magna Entertainment stated: "Accordingly, the company's ability to continue as a going concern is in substantial doubt and is dependent on the company generating cash flows that are adequate to sustain the operations of the business, renew or extend current financing arrangements and maintain its obligations with respect to secured and unsecured creditors, none of which is assured...". Once-thriving Thistledown, which hosts the $300,000 Ohio Derby, posted a pretax loss of $4.5 million in 2006. Thistledown and parent company, Magna Entertainment, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Thistledown was purchased in 2010 by Harrah's Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment) for $43 million. The track was subsequently contributed to a Caesars joint venture with Rock Gaming LLC in Summer 2012.
In June 2012, the State of Ohio inked a memorandum of understanding authorizing the state's seven racetracks to offer video lottery terminals (VLTs), and permitted some tracks to relocate to less gaming-concentrated areas of the state.
In August 2012, Rock Ohio Caesars announced plans to invest $88 million to develop a racino at the existing North Randall site. Enhancements to the facility include transforming the main floor of Thistledown’s grandstand into a 57,000 sq. ft. gaming space that will offer approximately 1,150 VLTs. Plans also included a 60-seat restaurant, two food court outlets, and a lounge. The casino opened in April 2013.
The track has a one mile dirt oval. There is no turf course.
The track's premier race is the Grade III Ohio Derby. The track also hosts numerous overnight handicaps and minor stakes during its April to September racing season. Ungraded handicaps and stakes run in 2010 are:
- The Angenora Stakes
- The Dr. T.F. Classen Memorial Stakes
- The Mike Rowland Memorial Handicap
- The J. William (Bill) Petro Memorial Handicap
- The Cleveland Gold Cup
- The Rose DeBartolo Memorial Stakes
- The George Lewis Memorial Stakes
- The Cleveland Kindergarten Stakes
- The Ohio Derby
- The Miss Ohio Stakes
- The Governor's Buckeye Cup
- The Best of Ohio Distaff
- The Best of Ohio Endurance
- The Best of Ohio Sprint
- Juvenile Stakes
- The Honey Jay Stakes
- Thomas Ott (April 9, 2013). "Thistledown draws a crowd for opening of Ohio's second racino". The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH). Retrieved 2013-04-11.