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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

RANDALL PARK RACE TRACK

RANDALL PARK RACE TRACK

RANDALL PARK RACE TRACK was a noted horse track for runners and trotters for 60 years. With its neighbor, THISTLEDOWN RACE TRACK, Randall Park provided the village of NORTH RANDALL with its major industry. Formerly located in an area bounded by Northfield, Harvard, Warrensville Center, and Miles roads, the track was originally part of the Forest City Farm, established by Christopher F. Emery in 1883 as a horse-breeding farm. The land was bought in 1905 by Youngstown entrepreneurs and then acquired by Bert Shank, who sold 100 acres north of Emery Rd. to William B. Chisholm for his Thistle Down Farms. Part of the remaining land became the village of North Randall, created in 1908 with Shank as first mayor to provide a site for harness racing after the closing of the GLENVILLE RACE TRACK. The new $250,000 track hosted the Grand Circuit in 1909, won by Emery's trotter Carroll, driven by Mayor Shank before a crowd of 17,000. Patronage fell off by World War I and did not improve until after World War II when the widespread use of automobiles increased attendance.

The track was closed in 1935 and four years later was leased to a group of Cleveland sportsmen organized as the Cleveland Jockey Club, Inc., which converted it for running races in 1939 and 1940. No races were run in 1941 or 1942, but in 1943 and 1944, Sam Lombardo, John Masoni and associates reopened it for both harness and running races. Lombardo and Masoni's Randall Park Racing Associates purchased the track in 1946 for $180,000; they sold it for $950,000 in 1950 to Saul Silberman and Ralph DeChiaro, who improved the facility, the quality of racing, and attendance before selling the track in 1956 for $3.6 million to a Pittsburgh syndicate. The new owners sold it for $4.2 million in Oct. 1960 to shopping-center magnate and Thistledown owner Edward DeBartolo. Randall Park's continued prosperity kept it in operation until 1968, when its races were transferred to Thistledown; in 1969 the site, home to auto racing in the 1910s and in subsequent years site of the Buckeye Handicap and other stakes races, was rezoned for retail uses, and in 1976 RANDALL PARK MALL opened on the property.