This was it, the big "new track" outing for 2016, to Belterra Park (and casino!) which used to be plain old River Downs. Except River Downs is gone. Well, the parking lot is still there. And the track itself. And the Ohio River in the background. And Cincinnati.
They tore down that beautiful airy old grandstand. In its place is now a smaller, noisy aluminum grandstand with a flying nun sun screen that reminded me sort of Kempton Park in England, except 8 times as flying nun-ish. But it wasn't totally horrible.
The old racebook building has been replaced by a casino. A big massive windlowless thing apparently designed to prevent casino patrons from ever seeing the light if day. I went over there a few times because this is where it seems all the best concessions are, both food and beverage. There's a little sandwich shop, not too far from the racing side, that's actually not bad. Concessions on racing side down under the grandstand were very limited and generic. The casino level does have some interesting little balconies and alcoves to step out and view the races, though regular schlubs were kind of discouraged from using those. Seemed to be associated with a dining area.
That beautiful old paddock/walking ring with the island in the middle has also been generified. Same place, but island and greenery gone. Pretty featureless..
All in all, not totally heinous. But not the greatest amenities for racing fans. Gets a thumbs up rating for simply putting on live racing in a halfways decent facility.These days, just putting on live racing and not totally marginalizing the race fan is about all one can expect. Anything else is a bonus.
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Pictures of Belterra Park racetrack, Cincinnati, OH