Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs 6000 S High St Columbus, OH 43207
Year Opened: 2012
Harness Racing Ohio
Eldorado Gaming Scioto Downs is located a few miles south of Columbus, though technically still has a Columbus address. It boasts a horse racing track behind its casino, and unlike many horse racing facilities, Scioto Downs’ only live racing is harness racing (May to September), where the drivers ride in a small cart behind the horse, as opposed to riding the horse itself.
Scioto Downs also offers year-round simulcast viewing of horse races from other tracks, and besides horse racing, the track also sometimes hosts high school cross-country championships.
Food & Beverage 5
There is plenty of food on offer at Scioto Downs – the main draw is the full-service restaurant and bar inside the clubhouse, where you can get table service while you sit and watch the races. Tables must be reserved if you want to sit down in time for the first race, but any unclaimed tables become available on a first-come, first-served basis 40 minutes after the first post time, which is at 5:50 pm on most race days, so you can grab a table without a reservation starting at 6:30. There should be plenty of tables still available then, but I would recommend making a reservation. There is also a Brew Brothers pub inside the casino, but you must be 21 or older to enter any part of the casino.
Besides the two restaurants, there are a couple of food stands in the adjacent building, as well as next to the track – options include all the standards such as pizza, chicken sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, walking tacos, corn dogs, nachos, tater tots, pretzels, funnel cake, and packaged candy, as well as bottled water, bottled soda, and a full range of beer and cocktails.
Scioto Downs doesn’t have a ton going on besides the racing itself, but there are a couple of fun happenings, most notably the “inflatable” races in between the first few horse races – people dress up in inflatable costumes like a T-Rex, monkey, chicken, even a toilet, and race each other a hundred yards or so down the track. What is interesting about this is they use the same truck (with fold-out wings) to start these races as they use for the horse races; I’m not sure whether just anyone can participate in these inflatable races, or if they are limited to track staff.
Scioto Downs is about 11 miles south of downtown Columbus, but there are still several restaurants nearby – the fanciest is Way Down Yonder, a chain popular in New Orleans, but you can also find several types of Asian cuisine, including Thai, plus multiple fast-food joints and a Mexican restaurant, as well as the Ohio staple, Bob Evans.
There are a couple of hotels near the track, Budget Inn and Hampton Inn being the closest, and there are also several nearby attractions if you plan to be in town for the day or weekend, especially if you head toward downtown. Columbus Zoo is popular, and if you go to the races in September, you may also be able to take in a Buckeyes game during your visit.
Scioto Downs has pretty good attendance during most race days, especially up in the clubhouse, and you will see a few folks with children. There did seem to be less crowd noise during the harness races than I have experienced at thoroughbred tracks, but that could have been due to this particular day having a lot of maiden races.
Getting to Scioto Downs is easy, as it is not far from I-70 and I-71, the two main arteries taking people to the bigger cities north, south, east, and west. Once you get on the property there is plenty of free parking right next to the facility – the track itself is hidden behind the casino; you just need to walk around back. Also don’t mind the signs saying 21 and older, as you only have to be 21+ to enter the casino or to bet; anyone can enter the clubhouse and track.
Once you get to the track there is plenty of room trackside and in the clubhouse, and since you don’t have to buy a ticket or show an ID to get it, there are no lines. You may have to wait in line at the concessions inside the adjacent building, as those stands tend to stack up, but the ones outside next to the track are very quick. There are also plenty of different seating options next to the track if you don’t want to sit in the clubhouse.
Return on Investment 5
No cost for admission and no cost for parking leads to a great return on investment, and it was fun to see a different kind of racing. I would recommend a visit, especially if you have never seen horse racing, or harness racing, before.
The casino next door is a plus if you are into that sort of thing, and being able to see harness racing is a unique feature. The inflatable races are also pretty cool, something I can honestly say I have never seen before.