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  Coney Island, Ohio Style !     

River DownsRiver Downs Logo

River Downs was located on the bank of the Ohio River, in Cincinnati, it was a one mile dirt oval, with an inner seven furlong turf course. Racing was held from late spring to early fall, making it possible to have an open air grandstand that seated 8,500. On the other hand the clubhouse was enclosed and sat an additional 2,500. The facility had stable accommodations for 1,350 horses  

Opened as Coney Island racetrack in 1925 the track preceded Pari-mutual betting in Ohio by eight years. The track was built on the banks of the Ohio river adjacent to an amusement park. In 1937 the track was devastated by the great flood and was rebuilt and renamed River Downs.

River DownsHoliday Racing

In 2011 River Downs ran it's normal April to Labor Day schedule. Racing is mostly run with low level claimers but there are some stakes races throughout the season. There is also plenty of turf racing. The track has a purse value index of 8 but being granted a racino license that should improve. Perry Ouzts won the riding title. 

In 2013 River Downs like every other track in Ohio was elated about the legalization of casino gaming in the state, but like everywhere else it came at a price. The old open air grandstand and clubhouse were demolished making way for a new facility. Live racing in 2013 was moved to Beulah Park, and last but not least the old track on the banks of the Ohio River, lost it's name.

In May of 2014, Belterra Park is scheduled to open it's doors for gaming, with the spring racing meet soon to follow. With additional revenue the track with a purse value index of only 8, is expected to raise that level, so much in fact that it's signature race The Cradle Stakes, which was discontinued in 2011 is expected to make a comeback. Ya gotta wonder what there thinking across the river in Florence, as Kentucky is the last hold out in the racino format in the area. 

I have been to River Downs a few times, the first was in 1970, the last in 2005. In 1970 I seem to recall that there was an amusement park next to the track, that seems to be gone now, but what I really remember were what the locals told me were cicadas, they were nasty, you couldn't even stay outside, I don't know how the horses and jockeys were able to take it. I guess the good news is that cicadas only pop up every seventeen years, if that's what they were.