AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The horses are moving in to the horse stalls behind Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course as the debut of live horse racing is less than two weeks away.
Puddin Face is one of the 100 horses taking up residence at the racino.
“A nice little Filly, but she will bite you, so you have to be careful with her,” groomer Thomas Calhoun said.
Calhoun has been grooming horses for decades, most recently in Cincinnati. He is looking forward to opening day on Nov. 24.
“It’s like you see your kid get grown and go away from home and you take a horse and you see it win a race and you are happy for it,” Calhoun said.
“The animal is such a magnificent animal,” said Mark Lowe, vice president of Ohio Racing Operations for Penn National.
He said by the start of racing, nearly all of the 988 stalls will be filled with horses. From Nov. 24 through December, there will be 21 days of racing, with about eight races each day.
“And we’re going to start with purses averaging about $65,000 a day, which is significantly more than what the horses were making at Beulah Park, the track that we transferred the license from,” Lowe said.
Betters need only to be 18 for racing, but the VLTs require gamblers to be 21.
In 2015, there will be 100 days of racing.
Lowe would not say exactly how much revenue horse racing would bring in.
“Racing certainly brings an important aspect of entertainment to the facility, but the reality is the VLT revenue is still the driving force,” he said.
Russ and Helen Garrett have been watching simulcasts from across the country in Austintown, but can’t wait to see the real deal. They once owned race horses, but now enjoy sitting back and betting a few bucks here and there.
For now, Puddin Face will enjoy some peppermints, which is her favorite treat, knowing soon it will be down to business.