Will Rogers Downs patrons enjoying renovations

BY KENLEA HENSON
Former Reporter
02/27/2018 08:15 AM
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Dog Iron Saloon inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs possesses a modern and rustic look after the casino underwent renovations completed in 2017. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The simulcast area inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs now features 100 simulcast screens after renovations. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The gaming floor inside Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs were also upgraded during renovations. The casino contains 250 electronic gaming machines. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
CLAREMORE – Guests at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs are enjoying the improved facility since the completion of renovations in 2017.

Billy Spradlin, WRD operations manager, said the renovations were something the property “sorely” needed.

“We are one of the older properties. We were kind of outdated on a lot of what we had. The community really needed a fresh face out here, as well as the employees,” he said.

The Cherokee Nation purchased the property in 2004 and opened the facility in 2005 as one of only three racehorse tracks in Oklahoma. WRD offers six months of live horse racing, including quarter horse racing from September through November and thoroughbred racing from March through May. It also offers daily simulcast racing broadcasted year-round from horse tracks around the world.

Beginning in August 2016, approximately $5 million in improvements were started to the 43,000-square-foot facility, including an upgraded dance floor and entertainment venue, an improved bar and restaurant, new gaming floor and simulcast area, as well as a revamped banquet and convention space.

Although the facility received updated amenities, the appearance throughout the facility has a rustic country and western feel, fitting for a horse-racing casino.

“The renovation for everybody was a win-win. Not only did the employees get to benefit from working in a place they can take pride in, the renovation for the community was huge because they have a place to go to and place to go to that they can be proud of,” he said.

Aside from its 250 electronic gaming floor and 100 simulcast TV screens, Spradlin said guests enjoy the nearly 90 seats available at the Dog Iron Grill, as well as a large dance floor with live bands.

“We have a huge dance floor, probably one of the better ones in Claremore and in the surrounding areas. If you’re here on a Wednesday or Friday or Saturday the dance floor is completely full. Wednesday is one of our senior nights where everybody comes out. It’s completely full. It really is a whole different atmosphere on Wednesday,” he said.

In addition to the casino, WRD offers a Kamp Grounds of America camping area, which features 400 RV hook-ups and a RV guest clubhouse. They also offer special events such as Kentucky Derby in May and lawnmower racing in March.

“We continue to succeed not only in the gaming industry but the entertainment and horseracing industry as well,” Spradlin said.

WRD’s thoroughbred horseracing season will begin March 12. It is located 3 miles east of Claremore on Highway 20. For more information, visit www.cherokeecasino.com or call 918-283-8800.

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