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  Everybody@Thistledown !     

ThistledownsThistledown Logo

Thistledown is a one mile dirt oval that features thoroughbred racing, in North Randall, about ten miles from Cleveland. In 2013 Thistledown was re-opened as a racino with the first floor of the grandstand converted to a casino. The original track has a glass enclosed grandstand and clubhouse. The grandstand has 6,000 seats, while the clubhouse holds an additional 2,500. There are stalls for 1,500 horses. Thistledown provides year round simulcasting.  

Back in the mid sixties shopping center magnet Edward DeBartolo acquired four racetracks in the Cleveland area. When the smoke cleared around 1969 there was one racetrack and three shopping centers. That one track Thistledown had many identities, Ascot@Thistledown, Randall@Thistledown, Cranwood@Thistledown and Thistledown@Thistledown.

ThistledownsThe Ohio Derby

It probably wasn't that bad a deal seeing as all the tracks needed major repairs and were in danger of losing their licenses. Beside why would you need three tracks only a few miles apart? Thistledown's identity crises continued in 1974 when the recently installed turf course (1968) was ripped out to install a seven furlong all weather inner tracks that is no longer in use.

 In 2011 things were buzzing at the track with a purse value index of 9, one of the lowest in the country. Ohio finally passed a bill allowing casino style gaming. It was not the normal racino legislation but full fledged casino's that will be located in all the major Ohio cities where racetracks are located. In a case of what goes around comes around Thistledown could be flushed out of Cleveland and headed down the road to Akron the area where Ascot Park one of it's absorbed identities was located. The new track if there is one will be a racino. The Ohio Derby was won by Calebs Posse, Eddie Razo Jr. in the irons. The riding title was won by Luis Gonzolez. 

In April of 2013, the racino at Thistledown opened. Thistledown was one of the Ohio tracks that was upgraded on it's original site, but if it remains here could still be up in the air. With competition from the Casino in Cleveland and the racino at Northfield Park, there is an option on the table for Thistledown to move a little down the road to Akron. It will be a wait and see in Ohio, if all the tracks survive in a State that went from zero to plenty in the gaming arena.

Armed with a GPS, and thirty years later (see the Raceway Park page) I finally made it to Thistledown, at least I thought I did. I figured the GPS was wrong and had taken me to the local hospital instead, but it really was the track. At least to me it looks like a hospital when you drive up ! For a place built in 1925 it seemed in pretty good shape, but much larger then necessary for todays crowds. Most of the grandstand area was vacant but I think the casino solved that problem.