Thistle Down: Ohio Course Has Superb Facilities Reflects Attitude of New Management Public, Daily Racing Form, 1955-06-01


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" wfW i ii WM Thistle Down I By Joe Hirsch Ohio Course Has Superb Facilities Reflects Attitude of New Management Public Supporting Improved Racing THISTLEDOWN, North Randall, Ohio, May 31.— A tourist from the east never ceases "to be impressed by the plush surroundings at this suburban course. The " architectural architectural style style combines combines the the architectural architectural style style combines combines the the salient features of a number of eastern tracks — the original contractors having made a thorough study of other plants prior to erecting the stands in 1953. ThistleDown has the myriad levels of Pimlico, an out-in-front paddock and the colonial brick touch of Garden State, and the clubhouse - grandstand proximity of Atlantic City. In short, superb facilities faculties which which cant cant help help but but facilities faculties which which cant cant help help but but wfW i ii WM make new friends for racing in an area where racing has had rough sledding and few friends. It was only a handful of years ago that the sport had sunk to new lows in the greater Cleveland area. Then ThistleDown and Randall Park changed hands and the new management was progressive enough to realize the only way to save racing here was to regain public support. A great deal of time and effort and money was spent and the results are only now beginning to appear. Consider Patrons Comfort Essential Its been a long, tough fight here for acceptance. First Lou Pondfield and Henry Gottfried decided that the comfort of the patron was essential and their plant reflects this attitude in every respect. It is the equal if not superior of many of the Easts top tracks. Stainless steel elevators and escalators carry fans to all levels of this 8-story structure. Comfortable seats provide maximum visibility of the mile strip. An air-conditioned restaurant and a careteria plus concession stands of every type are spotted throughout the building. Valet parking is facilitated by means of a special ramp leading directly to the stands. Major devices for the protection of the public are employed, including the film patrol and the. teletimer, while the photo finish is enlarged so that it may be easily visable above the heads of a large crowd. The majority of the barns are of recent cinderblock construction and a reciprocal agreement with Randall Park, located just across the street, permits well over 1,200 horses to be stabled comfortably in the-immediate area. Facilities for the press are the equal of anything weve seen in some time. A network of roads leads into the plant which is an important factor as officials here estimate that about 90 per cent of ThistleDowns business arrives by private auto. After providing local patrons with the best of facilities, management set about arranging for a continually higher caliber of sport. By carefully bolstering its stakes offerings and increasing its daily distribution, the association has been able to hring better horses and riders to Cleveland each year. This program of improvement seems to have met with success in restoring public faith in racing. Its been done without much help from the local press, too, for frankly Cleveland papers do not give racing the coverage it deserves when measured by attendance at this plant. However, even matters in this direction are improving. When ThistleDown opened in 1953, it averaged about 60,-000 for the fall session. Last year, with a cutback to eight races on most days, and atrocious weather during the first half of the meeting, play dipped a bit to 20,-000. With a break in the weather this season, Pond-field believes that his average can climb near the 00,000 mark. He has a great deal of confidence in the future of Cleveland racing and feels that with the type of sport being presented in comfortable surroundings, it is only a question of time before the full potentiality" of this highly industrialized area is realized. Bassett Concludes Ohio Circuit Tour Around the Track: Ike Bassett, manager of the central division of the Jockeys Guild, was a visitor yesterday en route to River Downs. He reports that Willie Pool, Ed Plesa and P. A. Ward were elected as local representatives of the Guild. Bassett will be back in his Chicago offices on Wednesday. *. . . Lou Pond-field, a steady commuter, will return to Baltimore today on a brief business trip. . . . Ralph Borgemenke checked his tack in at the jockeys quarters. He was second leading rider in the Cleveland area last summer with 61wins. George Sewing has his book. . . . Eric Blind announces that schooling hours are from 7 to 9 a.m. out of the six furlong chute. . . . Norman Haymaker has a division of his string at Waterford Park and is a regular traveler to Chester, W. Va. . . * TV Guide will sponsor a day here shortly. . . . Saul Silberman, presently occupied with his Painesville trotting interests, is a frequent clubhouse visitor. . . . Agent George Esrich notes that Russell Stein, seriously injured in a recent spill at Ascot Park, has been taken off the critical list at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron and would like to hear from his friends. . . . Film Patrol pictures may be viewed by owners and trainers between 1:30 and 2:15 p.m. in the grandstand. ... A number of Maryland horsemen are scheduled to arrive this week. ... ThistleDown stakes close this Saturday, June 4. ■ 1

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