Indiana Grand invests in horse racing's future on dirt

April 17, 2019 06:38pm
Indiana Grand invests in horse racing's future on dirt
Photo: Courtesy of Indiana Grand
Amid the conversation about dirt surfaces following an above-average number of breakdowns at Santa Anita Park since its meet began, Indiana Grand Racing and Casino debuted a new dirt surface Tuesday. On the first card of a seven-month meet, the track staged 10 incident-free races, two of which were for quarter horses.

Despite ongoing debate about surfaces that has spread to the rest of the country, Tammy Knox, director of race marketing at Indiana Grand, said the Hoosier track isn’t concerned about potential pushback.

“We started this process the day that racing ended in 2018,” Knox said, “so this was a project that was already in the works before any of those issues.”

Caesars Entertainment, the company that acquired Indiana Grand in the summer of 2018, oversaw installation. The first order of business was to replace the one-mile dirt track and base with a $700,000 investment.

“It (the track) seems good for no longer than it’s been down,” said 2018's leading rider, Rodney Prescott. “It doesn’t seem to be as coarse. It is a great upgrade for Indiana Grand.”

“[Caesars] are very excited about racing,” Knox added. “I think they feel like this is something new and it’s a new adventure for them, and they seem very receptive. They’ve really stepped up and done a lot of things so far.”

The new track clearly favored speed horses, as every Thoroughbred who won a race was in the lead with a furlong to go. There were only three horses, Crimson Bandit in the second, Pass the Mic in the sixth and Marilyn Mongo in the eighth, who won and were not in front at the three-eighths pole. Even then, none of these horses were more than four and a half lengths off the lead at that time.

While years past have seen the Indiana racing season start out under stormy skies -- in some cases, with snow falling -- Tuesday felt like an ideal spring afternoon.

“It’s been awesome,” Knox said. “We’ve had a great crowd and a beautiful day. You couldn’t ask for better weather.”

Beyond the new surface, Knox said she’s looking forward to “a couple of things in the works” with Caesar’s to be announced soon regarding Indiana Grand.

 

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Meet Madison Jackson

An avid racing fan since age 10, when she first saw the movie "Secretariat," Jackson has been passionate about diving deeper into the sport, whether that be by going to various racetracks or developing contacts with those in the racing industry.

She began writing about racing in seventh grade, when a 500-word writing assignment turned into a published book. But her proudest writing accomplishment came in 2015, on a Facebook comment about the racehorse Runhappy, which earned her two tickets to the 2015 Breeders' Cup and the opportunity to hoist the Breeders' Cup Sprint garland over her shoulders.

Jackson lives in Northeast Indiana, where she keeps a variety of animals, including her two off-track Thoroughbreds, Rayonnant and Swinging Chango, her mini horse and her Paint. In the fall of 2018, she began attending the University of Louisville, where she's majoring in Equine Business Management.

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