No major changes will be made right away, with Harrah's planning to "go slow and not disrupt things," Thompson said. "We are looking forward to enhancing the entertainment offerings at the track," he said. "A lot of ideas are being kicked around."
The present Thistledown management team is expected to continue operating the track with input from Harrah's, which bought Thistledown on May 25 for $43 million. The casino giant has a great deal of experience in the horse-racing game. It owns Harrah's Louisiana Downs in Louisiana, Harrah's Chester Casino & Racetrack in Pennsylvania and Players Bluegrass Downs in Kentucky. It is co-owner of Turfway Park in Kentucky.
Nominations for the us$ 100,000 Ohio Derby closed Tuesday. Director of Racing William Couch released the list this week. The draw for the race is July 27.
A new pari-mutuel gambling game resembling slot machines was approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission this week. Similar to Instant Racing offered at Arkansas tracks, the machines allow betting on randomly chosen past races. Bettors would be given odds and other information on the resurrected races, with wagers put into a common betting pool.
The new game is getting support from horse racing tracks, if only because it could provide additional revenue. As in Ohio, Kentucky tracks are suffering as tracks in neighboring states offer expanded casino games.
Keeneland President and CEO Nick Nicholson said the new game "would be another tool we could use to help generate additional revenue to boost purses and assist our industry."
President Bob Elliston of Turfway Park said he appreciates the decision, but his track will still have to reduce the number of racing dates to stay competitive.