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The racecourse of Belterra Park has been operational for the best part of a century. It has raced under a variety of names in the past, including River Downs. Its feature races are The Best of Ohio and the Queen City Oaks. The brainchild of a group of New York financiers, River Downs racecourse can be found at Anderson Township in Hamilton County, south east of Cincinnati, and first opened its gates to racing in 1925. On that first day a crowd in excess of 10,000 witnessed the amazing Black Gold win the inaugural race. The principal race is the Cincinnati Derby and one of its greatest encounters was the 1926 event won by Crusader, defeating Boot To Boot (who had triumphed in the American Derby) and Display (who had won the Belmont Stakes). The track became synonomous with famous horses and in 1936 possibly the greatest of them all, Seabiscuit, was to contest and be defeated in the Western Hills Handicap and the Eastern Hills Handicap in October. His greatest victories were yet to come. The track has not only witnessed great racehorses, but launched the careers of some of the most famous jockeys. One of the best to grace the track was first seen on 17th May 1976 when the 'Kid' won on Red Pipe. Steve Cauthen became a household name well beyond the River Downs track or the shores of the America, and possibly the highlight of his great career was a Triple Crown win on Affirmed. The track enjoyed a major rebuilding programme in 1988 and 1989, including a $16 million grandstand, but managing to keep the 'open air' tradition first begun in 1925. A first took place at the track on 19th September 1996 when the River Downs Clubhouse became the 'River Downs Racebook' broadcasting live races from across the States and keeping the track at the very forefront of USA racing. However, disaster struck the next year when the track became a victim of the Cincinnati flood, the Clubhouse was flooded and the first floor of the Grandstand completely covered in water. Remarkably, the cleaning up operation was so efficient that only 18 days of racing were lost, the course opening again in late April. The track was later sold to Pinnacle which renamed it Belterra Park. That track underwent a period of modernisation and extension, including the courses. T now has an 8 furlong oval dirt track with separate 6 ½ furlong and 10 furlong chutes, but inside of the track is a 7 furlong turf track. Furthermore, the stabling has been increased to hold up to 1,350 horses. The principal races at the track include the Cradle Stakes, the Hoover Stakes, the Queen City Oaks, the Bassinet Stakes and the Buckeye Native Stakes.

Local Patrons River Downs Race Club
Principal Races Cradle Stakes, Hoover Stakes, Queen City Oaks, Bassinet Stakes, Buckeye Native Stakes

I am grateful to our American Racing Correspondent Richard Gauthier for the badge scans shown below.

River Downs 2000.JPG (12059 bytes)

Course today The racecourse continues to operate very successfully.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email johnwslusar@gmail.com

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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