Raceway Park kicks off 2011 live harness racing seasonWritten by Emily Gibb | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo’s Raceway Park begins its 2011 live harness racing season April 30 and is gearing up for its biggest party of the year — Derby Day on May 7.
“We love having people come out and experience the Derby and live racing together,” said marketing coordinator Andrea Ritter. “If you come in at 5 p.m., it’s elbow to elbow. It really is a party.”
The Kentucky Derby in Louisville, also known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” starts around 6:20 and the action inside Raceway Park continues when the live racing begins at 7 p.m. The excitement around harness racing continues with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, which round out the Triple Crown.
“They come out for the entire Triple Crown,” Ritter said of racing fans. “It’d just be great to see one horse win all three this year.”
The facility is open seven days a week from noon to midnight with live racing and more on Saturdays and Sundays for $2 per person through Sept. 30. There will also be four Wednesday live races, May 18 and 25 and June 1 and 8.
Raceway Park is bringing back the fifth annual Party at the Park Summer Concert Series with live bands every Saturday. Fans can catch local favorites Hoozier Daddy, Nine Lives and Mas Fina beginning at 5 p.m. and playing during breaks between several of the races throughout the night.
“We’re not just live racing, we’re really an entertainment facility,” Ritter said.
Another hit from seasons past that will continue this year is the giveaways. During the opening night kickoff April 30, one lucky fan will receive two tickets to the Kentucky Derby. A T-shirt giveaway will occur on the actual Derby night and more will occur throughout the season, Ritter said.
Raceway Park tries to appeal to everyone, even if they are not coming to place bets.
“Some people like the harness racing and some like coming for the whole experience,” Ritter said. “It’s a great, affordable option. It really is night life out here.”
There are five different food options for hungry parkgoers. The Crazy Horse Clubhouse is open during live race days and offers a bar, a full buffet on Saturday nights and a new a la carte menu on Sundays.
The Horseshoe Café is open Thursday through Sunday.
The Starting Gate Lounge is open seven days a week. Race fans can catch all the action on the more than 40 LCD HDTVs.
The Finish Line Bar is open Saturdays and Sundays, with watching and wagering available straight from the comfort of the seats.
The newest addition to the park’s food choices is the Trackside Bar and Grill. Open during live racing, the outdoor joint is located near the winners circle and offers cold draft beer and fire-grilled burgers and hot dogs.
Every Sunday through September is Dollar Day from open until close. Patrons can enjoy an earlier start time at 6 p.m. and admission, programs, hot dogs, sodas, popcorn and nachos are all for $1 each.
“We hope to continue the giveaways and to support the economy and affordable entertainment in this area,” Ritter said. “We just want everyone to have a great time.”
Raceway Park is owned by Penn National Gaming, which is building two casinos in Ohio and is waiting on Gov. John Kasich’s decision on gaming at racetracks. In addition to Raceway Park, Penn owns Beulah Park in Columbus and has notified the Ohio State Racing Commission that it would ask to relocate those licenses —Toledo to Dayton and Columbus to Youngstown, respectively, should racetrack gaming be legalized.
For more information and a full schedule of events, visit the website www.racewayparktoledo.com.