Although I have been to casinos in Las Vegas, my only previous experience with live horse racing had been at county fairs. I had also never attended Thoroughbred racing before.
In April 2013, ThistleDown reopened as a Racino near Cleveland. Early in the month, the casino opened. Racing started again at the facility on April 19. ThistleDown is the second racino to open in Ohio. Scioto Downs in Columbus is the state’s first racino.
When you are used to attending horse racing only at county fairs, the facilities at ThistleDown alone can be quite impressive. At every county fair I have attended, horse racing spectators are required to sit in the heat and dust to watch the races. At ThistleDown, there is a very large area inside to view the races. You can sit outside if you wish, but I preferred to watch from climate controlled seating inside the building. The large windows make it seem like you are sitting right outside by the track even though you are seated safely away from the dust and heat behind the glass.
I did enjoy watching the horses race. We watched about 6 of the 8 races. If you are bored between the races, you can visit the casino. Although nothing at ThistleDown compares to the large and lofty casinos of Vegas, they do have more than 1,000 slot machines, and the casino has been updated and seems very clean and nicely put together.
On the Friday afternoon I attended races, I had to walk through the parking lot quite a distance due to the large crowd that was visiting the casino even before the racing officially started for the afternoon. It seemed like a larger crowd was forming as the afternoon went on.
Most folks seemed interested in the casino but there was more interest in the racing as the afternoon continued. I’m not a big gambler; I only lost $1, but I did enjoy the unique atmosphere created by combining horse racing and a casino.
Although ThistleDown only has afternoon racing, I believe Scioto Downs has evening races. It might be fun to take an opportunity this summer to check out one of the new racinos in Ohio.