Beulah Park Shuts Down After 91 Years Of Horseracing
It's the end of an era in Ohio gambling history. After 91 years of thoroughbred horseracing, Grove Cityâs Beulah Park shuts its gates. Even though long-time customers and workers saw the end coming, it doesnât make it any easier. Horses have been thundering down the Beulah Park racetrack since 1923. It was Ohioâs first thoroughbred racetrack. In its heyday thousands of people bet on the horses. Millions of dollars were won and lost. [caption id="attachment_70071" align="alignright" width="300"] A horse runs during one of the final races at Beulah Park in Grove City. (Photo: Sam Hendren / WOSU News) [/caption] But the trackâs popularity has been in decline in recent years. Employee Mark Ostrander, who helps calculate the odds, remembers better times at Beulah Park. âItâs really went downhill the last years. I know what they bet every day and it ainât what it used to be,â? Ostrander says. Q: At the high point, what would it have been like? âI would say eight years ago they were still betting $1 million a week here,â? Ostrander says. The lottery, casinos, on-line gambling: all have cut into horseracing revenues around the country. Beulah Park could not survive the losses. Several recent developments accelerated the downfall. Central Ohioâs other horse track, Scioto Downs added slot machines. Penn National Gaming bought Beulah Park at about the same time it opened its Hollywood Casino on the west side of Columbus. Penn National then won approval to move its thoroughbred racing operation from Central Ohio to just outside Youngstown. [caption id="attachment_70073" align="alignright" width="300"]
A sign at Beulah Park displays the track conditions. (Photo: Sam Hendren / WOSU News)[/caption] Beulah Parkâs closing has been hard for residents to accept. âIâve lived in Grove City my whole life and this has just been something we took for granted,â? says Mary Molchan who has fond memories. âI can remember Saturdays as a child Broadway would just be packed with vehicles coming to the racetrack. And now itâs gone. And itâs sad,â? Molchan says. Molchan joined several hundred people last weekend for a farewell at the track. Grove City mayor Ike Stage: âOkay. Welcome everyone if you could find a seat, we will begin. And Iâm not calling this a celebration; Iâm calling it a decommissioning of Beulah Park,â? Stage said. Louise Goss of Dublin brought photographs of her father in the Beulah Park winnerâs circle in the 1930s. She says her dad was one of the trackâs best horse trainers. Goss had mixed emotions about the closing. âItâs been dying for quite a while. Itâs kind of time to get it over with,â? Goss said. 74-year-old John Jahn of Grove City has been coming to Beulah Park for about 50 years. He says horse racing is in his blood; he calls the closing âterrible;â? and he blames casinos. âHorse racingâs on its way out, I think. These casinos donât care about the horseman. All they care about is the money they can make,â? Jahn says. Through the years Jahn has developed solid friendships with many of the racetrackâs employees. Though some workers will transfer to Youngstown, many, like housekeeper Patricia Bradley, will have to look for something else. âIt hurts. I love this place because I love my customers,â? Bradley says. As Beulah Parkâs sounds, smells and excitement fade, Grove Cityâs focus turns to redeveloping 213 acres of prime real estate in the cityâs center.