In 1889, the village of Grove City approved a new residential development on what had previously been farmland. Local businessman A. G. Grant named the development in honor of his daughter, Beulah. To attract more residents to the area, a park was established, which was later expanded to include a small race track. Franklin County held its annual county fair at Beulah Park until 1918.
The park was sold in 1922 to a racing association, which built Ohio’s first thoroughbred horse racing track at Beulah Park in 1923. In its early years, the track also held a few greyhound races, though they were unannounced – greyhound racing was illegal in the state at the time.
For over 90 years, Beulah Park was a hive of activity for the village – later city – of Grove Park. Horse racing attracted large crowds, leading to several upgrades and additions in the 1950’s. In the off season, the track was used for concerts, fireworks, rodeos, and hot air balloon displays.
But by the 1980’s, Beulah Park was facing competition from other nearby tracks. In 1983, the park was sold and renamed Darby Downs. 20 years’ worth of records were stolen by the owner one night. By 1986, the track had been sold again, and renamed Beulah Park. To keep the park competitive, a $12-million-dollar renovation project was started that included resurfacing the track, adding new outdoor paddocks, and a new administration building.
Still, Beulah Park failed to draw the crowds seen at other nearby tracks. The track was showing signs of age, with peeling paint, old TV monitors, and burnt out bulbs on the scoreboards. Competition from nearby Scioto Downs, a more modern track with a casino. “The reputation of Beulah as an anachronistic, decrepit, Godforsaken racetrack is not necessarily undeserved,” Marty McGee wrote in his obituary for the park on the Daily Racing Forum. “Even its supporters call it ‘the end of the line,’ the final stop before slow or infirm Thoroughbreds disappear from the racing annals… The backstretch often served as a repository for the unwanted, both equine and human; if you couldn’t make it here, you couldn’t make it anywhere.”
Beulah Park was sold to Penn National Gaming in July of 2010. In April of 2014, Penn Gaming announced that it would be closing Beulah Park and relocating its thoroughbred racing to Youngstown. The track closed on May 3rd, 2014. Around 5,000 attended the last day of races.
Several developers expressed interest in the site, with proposals ranging from building warehouses to new residential housing. By 2016, the city announced plans for a mixed residential and office park development that would include 800 homes and large parks. Demolition of the race track began in October of 2016.