AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s a weekend of Ohio-bred-only horses at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course. Even more, it’s the kickoff of racing at the Austintown track, with five races taking place on Saturday.
Each race’s purse was $150,000 — totaling three-quarters of $1 million for the day.
“It’s a way for us to celebrate, recognize and reward horses that are bred,” said Bill Bork, racing services manager.
The winner of Saturday’s first race was a horse named Speedy Mobile. Roughly 9-12 horses ran in each race, meaning about 50 of Ohio’s best horses raced in Austintown.
Six of those are Tim Hamm’s horses, as he raises them at a farm in Ellsworth.
“It’s awesome,” Hamm said. “When the new track here at Mahoning Valley opened, we were very excited. Our farm is about seven miles from here — it’s in our hometown. It’s hard to believe they brought it here.”
This weekend begins the third season of live racing at Hollywood Gaming. They’ll be running four times per week and the season goes until April.
“We run in the winter so we do not compete with Thistledown in Cleveland,” Bork said. “If we did — if we ran at the same months as Thistledown — there wouldn’t be enough horses to run at both properties.”
And with racing, comes betting.
Mahoning Valley Gaming said they are impressed with the turnout and popularity of the race track. During the 2015-16 season, people wagered nearly $48 million at the track and at off-track betting sites, which is an increase of more than 31 percent from the previous year.