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  Race-Away to Dayton !     

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Raceway Park started out as a half mile thoroughbred venue located a few miles from downtown Toledo. The original grandstand which was glass enclosed sat 5,000 with seating for another 2,000 outside on bleachers. After a few years harness racing was added and the track expanded to five eight of a mile. Thoroughbreds were eliminated in the early seventies and in 1977 the original track burned to the ground.

In 1978 a rebuilt track opened, this one had a glass enclosed grandstand and clubhouse, the grandstand sat 5,000 the clubhouse 700. There was parking for 2,500 cars and 1,000 stalls were available for horses.   

Raceway Park started out in 1950 as a race track for cars. In 1959 the track became a half-miler for thoroughbreds. In 1962 harness racing was added to the mix. The track was expanded to five-eights of a mile in 1965. Thoroughbred racing went away in 1972, leaving the track solely to the standardbreds. The original thoroughbred track had no chutes.

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The trotters and pacers seemed like a good fit, the track was filled most nights and many of the top horse and drivers made appearances at Raceway Park. By the mid-seventies things started to change. In late 1976 forty horses perished in a barn fire. Another fire a year later burned the clubhouse and grandstand to the ground. Raceway managed to re-open to a huge crowd in 1978 but it was downhill from there. The original owners sold out in 1988 and there have been several ownership changes since then.

 In 2011 Raceway ran an April to September schedule racing only Saturday and Sundays, a far cry from the dates it had in it's heyday. Worst than that the parent company Penn National Gaming submitted a plan to the Ohio Racing Commission to move to another Ohio location, possibly Youngstown. Racing was again scheduled for 2012.

Racing not only resumed for 2012, then again in 2013, but that would be the end of the line. On September 15, Tommy Two Shoes, Robert Dinning in the bike rambled home in 1:57.4, to be the last horse to ever have a picture taken in the Raceway Park winners circle. In 2014 Raceway Park is being relocated to Dayton, to avoid conflict with the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, the track will be renamed, Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway.

The tracks signature event over the years was the Buckeye-Wolverine Pace. The race which pitted Michigan against Ohio was said to have predicted the winner of the annual Ohio-Michigan football game seventy five percent of the time. The race has not run for a few years, but who knows, with added purses maybe it will return? Notable horses who ran at Raceway Park include, Ramblin' Willie, Mack Lobell and Shady Daisey.

I managed a couple trips to Raceway Park, once in 1976 and in 2007. The 1976 visit was unintended as I was heading back east from Michigan thinking that Thistledowns was in Toledo. Life was harder without a GPS, so you usually had to ask for directions, which no-one seemed to have for Thistledowns in Toledo. Finally someone said there was a racetrack down the road but they ran harness races at night, well he was right I finally found the place with harness horse training on the track. that place Raceway Park. That day I drove past the turnoff for Thistledowns, in Cleveland, about the time the last race was running, not making it there for another thirty years or so.

The trip in 2007 was legit I knew I was in Toledo, and I knew there was harness racing. By that time Raceway Park was pretty much in decline and heading for the end of life cycle. No Willie's or Mack's anymore.