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Hancock County casino seeks fewer racing days

WEIRTON, W.Va. – Predicting significant competition from a racetrack scheduled to open near Youngstown, Ohio, by the end of the year, officials at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort want to reduce the number of thoroughbred races they hold each year to save money.

However, during a West Virginia Racing Commission meeting Monday in Weirton, a group of horse breeders and trainers told commissioners that eliminating 14 live racing days per year would put some of them out of business – an action they said would have a chilling effect on Hancock County’s economy.

According to its website, the Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course is expected open in Austintown, Ohio, later this year. This facility would join several other new casinos which have opened in both Ohio and Pennsylvania over the last few years.

“People are going to run in Austintown. The biggest competitive factor with Austintown is that they are going to run on our race days,” Mountaineer Racing Director Rose Mary Williams told commissioners.

John W. Baird, president of the Mountaineer Park Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, told commissioners he agreed with track officials’ proposal to cut 14 days of racing per year. However, he acknowledged this would cause economic hardship for some of the dozens of people gathered at the Millsop Community Center.

“Some people are going to be affected. Your blacksmith, the feed people. There will be an impact on the whole economy for Hancock County,” Baird said.

Larry Reed of Hancock County, who has owned and trained thoroughbreds for 45 years, said he favored a proposal that would allow the track to hold eight races per day instead of the 10 it now holds…

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