HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KFSM) — Its racing season again in Arkansas and hundreds of horses raced around the Oaklawn Track in Hot Springs on opening day Friday (Jan. 24).
“Our racing is superb, it's growing and it's getting better year after year," said Wayne Smith, Oaklawn general manager.
Oaklawn kicked off its 116th live racing season Friday and during opening weekend, more than 270 horses will run the track in front of crowds of fans.
Smith says with construction underway, everything should run smoothly whether you're there to place bets or just to enjoy a day at the track.
“We are just making sure our fans have the best experience they could possibly have from the time that they park until they get their first beer,” Smith said.
The hotel and casino expansion took up a large chunk of the available parking, so free parking requires a ride on a shuttle bus or a long walk.
“Parking is going to be an evolution this season and as I tell the team constantly on a day to day basis short term pain, long term gain,” Smith said.
Friday featured the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes and Saturday promotions begin with the traditional offering of 50 cent corned beef sandwiches and 10 cent soft drinks as a homage to Oaklawn's history.
Owner of Oaklawn Racing and Gaming Louis Cella says the start of a new season brings opportunity to the entire state.
“We are a very strong shining star and that’s very exciting for Arkansas and that’s what it's really all about, forget about Oaklawn it's great for the region and the state of Arkansas to say you know what we’re doing a darn good thing here and that’s neat,” Cella said.
Live racing begins again at 1 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 25).