Day At The Track

Hollywood Dayton Raceway opens to a full house

01:40 PM 04 Oct 2014 NZDT
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Dayton Raceway, harness racing Harness Racing
Horses race around the turn opening night at Hollywood Dayton Raceway
Conrad Photo
Ella V Horse is surrounded by her connections, including driver Dan Noble and trainer Travion Jones, and Hollywood Dayton Raceway officials after capturing the Inaugural race at the new track
Conrad Photo

Dayton, OH --- Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway, Ohio’s newest harness track, opened Friday evening (Oct. 3) with a packed house of horseplayers and curiosity seekers.

Owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., Dayton Raceway came about when the company was permitted to move its Raceway Park license from Toledo about 150 miles south. Video lottery terminals began operating at Dayton in September.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” Gary DeWitt, general manager of the facility, said during opening ceremonies. “It has been quite a journey. This is the beginning of another entertainment option in Dayton with live harness racing. We think it’s the nicest racing facility in the state of Ohio.”

The racing side of the project was overseen by Mark Loewe, vice president of Ohio racing operations for PNGI. With the opening of Dayton, all four Ohio harness tracks now have VLTs and other amenities.

“We’re really happy with it,” PNGI vice president of racing Chris McErlean said. “Being involved in this project from the ground up has been fun. Mark did a great job. It may be a little tight here tonight, but I think the facility is the right size for this market.”

With at least 2,500 people on the racing side and regular traffic coming and going from the gaming floor, it was pretty tight on opening night. Lines were long at betting windows and concession stands.

The first race at Dayton, which has a well-lit five-eighths-mile racing surface, was won by Ella V Horse, owned by Mitchell Standardbreds of Florida, trained by Travion Jones, and driven by Dan Noble, a native of the area. The 7-year-oldRoyal Mattjesty mare won a conditioned pace for fillies and mares in 1:54.3 for one mile on a fast track.

Igottafeelinfran (Noble) captured the $12,000 Mares Open Pace with a strong last quarter brush to collar pacesetter Sectionline Yankee (Greg Grismore). Betit To Getit (Jason Brewer) finished third in the 1:55.3 mile. The winner is a 4-year-old Ohio-sired daughter of Feelin Friskie owned by Harold Lee and Harold Bauder in partnership with Michael Dixon. Jim Dailey trains the lifetime winner of $338,871.

The ship-in paddock at Dayton has gotten high marks from horsemen and others, including Ohio State Racing Commission chairman Robert Schmitz, who was on hand for the opener.

“Any racetrack I go to, the paddock is the first place I start out,” Schmitz said. “This paddock was built to a T. As for the rest of the facility, we’ll see how the sight lines are, but I think they did an excellent job. I’m excited about the Dayton area having a racetrack, and I think there is enough interest by folks around here to rekindle harness racing.”

Schmitz said when Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the General Assembly approved racetrack VLTs, growth in the agriculture sector was a main driver.

“It has come to fruition,” he said.

The inaugural Dayton meet runs through Dec. 27, with racing five nights a week (Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays) for most of the meet. First post time is 6:35 p.m.

By Tom LaMarra, for the USTA

 

 

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