Still talking horses in Austintown

It was another tense meeting Thursday in Columbus over the new Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Racecourse.

Officials with Penn National met with members of the Ohio Horse Racing Commission. They were bringing them up to speed on the construction of the racino off Route 46 in Austintown and the installation of 988 horse stalls.

In December, Penn National agreed to add about 300 more horse stalls than planned at the urging of the Ohio Horsemen’s Association and the Ohio Horse Racing Commission.

The vice president of racing operations with Penn National told the board they cannot build the additional horse stalls until there is a long-term agreement in place with the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association.

Board members said without the additional stalls, they will not issue a permit for racing at the facility.

“We have made it clear that we are willing to increase the number of stalls but it is dependent on reaching an agreement with the Horsemen and we are working hard to get there,” said Penn National vice president of racing opertions Bob Tenenbaum.

Penn National officials said they have an agreement in principle with the Horsemen. Another meeting is scheduled with them next week to try and complete the deal.

“We need to focus on the fact that there is an agreement in principle. Penn is committing to build 988 stalls plus the ship-in barn will get us well over 1,000 stalls. That’s the good news,” said Horse Racing Commissioner Mark Munroe.

Penn National said they are still on track to open the Austintown race track this fall.

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