CLEVELAND, Ohio, April 27, 2011 – Thistledown posted a 44 percent jump in on-track handle on its races opening day compared to last year’s opener. On-track handle from all sources was up 26 percent. The track presented eight live races on opening day both years.

“I couldn’t be happier with the success of opening day,” said General Manager Lee Dillard. “From people here for their 48th opening day to first-timers, we had a great turnout with great races, giveaways and drink specials. We are planning lots of other activities for the season, and I want to say thank you to all who came out and gave us a look on Saturday.”

With two full days of racing in the books, trainers Jevon Crumley and Rodney Faulkner have jumped out early in the standings. Through Monday Crumley has saddled four winners, two each day, and Faulkner has three. Jamie Ness, who led all trainers for the year in 2010, checked in with two winners.

Jockey Ernesto Oro was aboard for all three Faulkner wins and is tied with last year’s leading rider, Yamil Rosario, for the very early lead.

Rainfall Tuesday pushed the April total for the Cleveland area to 6.72 inches so far, a new record for the month and almost four inches above normal. The unusual weather has created challenges for the keepers of Thistledown’s dirt track, which was rated fast on opening day and sloppy/sealed on Monday. Track superintendent John Banno said, “It was a lot of work the whole month—we were open for training before the meet started—and a lot of challenges. The crew worked hard and did a great job, and on opening day Mother Nature helped us out with some wind and sun.”

Thistledown’s stakes schedule gets underway this Saturday with the Dr. T. F. Classen Memorial, six furlongs for accredited Ohio-bred fillies and mares three years old and up.

Longtime Thistledown security guard Richard Tushar passed away April 18 after a brief battle with cancer. Tushar had worked as a full-time guard at Thistledown for 23 years, serving on the backside during live racing and in the grandstand during the simulcast season. Services were held on Tuesday.

“Richard was an excellent person,” said Chief of Security Arthur Pierre, “the kind of employee you want—dependable, showed up every day, and if we needed someone to fill in, he was the first to volunteer.”

Thistledown presents live racing Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.