• La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 3 days ago
  • Rubilinda (6-5) finds the wire just in time to take the Pebbles Stakes.Posted 3 days ago
  • Engage (1-2) rolls home from last to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes.Posted 3 days ago
  • Bolt d'Oro is the 12-1 favorite in the current Las Vegas line for Kentucky Derby 2018.Posted 6 days ago
  • Romantic Vision (6-1) takes the sloppy Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.Posted 9 days ago
  • Unique Bella (1-5) returns with a clear victory in the L. A. Woman (G3) at Santa Anita.Posted 9 days ago
  • Flameaway (5-1) wins a three-horse photo finish in the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at a wet Keeneland.Posted 9 days ago
  • War Flag (9-1) wins the stretch battle in Belmont's Flower Bowl (G1).Posted 9 days ago
  • Separationofpowers (9-5) impresses in the Frizette at Belmont Park.Posted 9 days ago
  • Roy H (4-5) lives up to favoritism in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.Posted 10 days ago
Breeders' Cup 2017

Change is in the Air

On February 21st, Centaur Holdings (Ownership of Hoosier Park) announced the finalization of their purchase of Indiana Grand Casino and Indiana Downs.

Centaur has big plans for both of their “racinos” which could include a 1,500 person music venue in Anderson while proposing the construction of 300 more stalls at Indiana Downs. There are also talks of adding a music venue to Indiana Downs according to the Anderson Herald. 


What does this mean for racing in Indiana?  Centaur and the IHRC have adopted a “One track, One Breed” philosophy.   Hoosier Park will be the only home for Harness racing fans in Indiana. The 160 day meet will open for business on April 2nd and run till November 9th. 


The excitement of thoroughbred racing will be found only at Indiana Downs. The 116 day meet will open on April 23rd with a closing date of October 19th.  Indiana Downs was the logical choice for the permanent home of thoroughbred racing in Indiana. The Shelbyville oval offers turf racing along with a 1 mile dirt “thoroughbred friendly” surface. Hoosier Park was built more for Harness racing with the track's “Nascar” like banked turns. 


Centaur has to make some major improvements to Indiana Downs if it expects to accommodate serious thoroughbred racing fans. Several obstacles have hindered the “downs” in the past.  The simulcast center which is located on the 1st floor of the track needs a serious make over. Though the building has a quaint feel to it the old style televisions and betting machines has been a major frustration to the serious horse players in Indiana over the past few years.   


Racing in Indiana has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years with the reemergence of depth and quality in open and stakes racing. The grade II Indiana Derby is now a major prep race for many divisions of the Breeders’ Cup. Last year’s Indiana Derby day was not only the richest day in Hoosier racing history it was also one of the strongest.   


Centaur needs to build on Hoosier Park’s success by changing the mind-set at Indiana Downs. It’s been apparent to me that the management of Indiana Downs was satisfied with the status quo. This has to change with the new ownership if racing in Indiana is going to survive and thrive. I’ve listed five bullet points of what I think needs to change at Indiana Downs. 


1.       Fan appreciation.  Reach out to the people that keep you in business. Though the track doesn’t charge admission they also don’t cater to their patrons. Hoosier Park has been great about having handicapping contest, t-shirt tosses, mystery wagering ticket night and all kinds of different give-a-ways. This needs to happen at Indiana Downs to get people to the track. 


2.       Good Press. Reach out to the press!  The only publicity I’ve read about Indiana Downs has always been in a negative light.  I remember when Horse Racing Nation’s managing editor Brian Zipse first attended Indiana Downs he asked a worker in the elevator where the press box was, well there isn’t one. This is unacceptable for any track that has graded races and that wants to improve. Build a press box! 


3.       Horseman Appreciation.  As I’ve talked to many trainers and owners over the past 10 year’s one of their major issues with Indiana Downs is the lack of appreciation for the horses and horseman.  Indiana Grand Casino has always been #1. It’s time that Indiana Downs is a race track with a casino, not a casino with a race track. 


4.       Guaranteed Pools. The pick 4 at Indiana Downs is always a challenging wager so why not reward the bettor by offering a guaranteed pool of maybe 10 or 15 thousand? This will take a major marketing scheme by management but it will give on-track and off-track players a reason to play the tough pick 4.



5.       Objectivity and Fan Education.  Be objective! Be open to working with a website like Horse Racing Nation. Take the lead from Horse Player Now and Night School. Educate your fans about the sport. Embrace the handicapping aspect and intellectual stimulation that horse racing offers. 



I believe this change in Indiana racing will improve the sport in this state if we‘re just willing to take chances and spend the money needed to get the fans in Indiana interested about the most charming game of all, horse racing! 



I encourage all of you to take a trip to Indiana Downs the spring and spend a day with me enjoying this sport!


comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about Change is in the Air...

I am truly amazed at how many major courses now have it or had it: Fort Erie, Lousianna Downs, Hoosier, Delta, Evangeline, Hialeah, Prarie Meadows has a few too
I hope Indiana gets a track built in Lake County!
As to quarter horse racing, looking at the purses at some of the tracks, it does definitely have a large following. I truly think that all racing interests harness thoroughbred and quarter horse need to pool their interests and lobby together because cuts in breeding etc affects all racing interests. I also think many of these tracks would be better served allowing all three forms of racing at their venues. Years ago that was true at many major tracks. I remember harness racing at Santa Anita, Del Mar etc.
TV I am aware that Ontario was a full business partnership and NOT a subsidy. However , every time some leader wants to take the money from racing, they call it a subsidy.
One less T-bred venue...When did quarter horse racing get such a following??
Creeping Casino Cancer is rampant....It never was a subsidy in Ontario as it was a business arrangement between the tracks and OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming) and the government made tons of money in the hundreds of millions.
Scott, you know I would love to add a visit to an Indiana racetrack and a Hoosier BB game to my lists.
Is Gov. Pence still intent on gutting the funds for racing and breeding in Indiana? I know he has called these monies a subsidy ala Ontario and wants to remove them completely from horse racing. I know the Indiana horsemen fought this off under Gov. Daniels. Hopefully they will be able to do it again.
Since I've already hit Hoosier, looks like I'm going to make a trip to Indiana Downs.
Coming to experience the new Indiana Downs Scoggay??
Hasn't changed since the 1950s. The new NYRA board is going to invest money to improve the facilities there and want to make much needed improvements at Belmont.
I have always felt that if the tracks improved their facilities, had better concessions and basically cleaned the place up they would provide a better place for their fans and the fans would come back. Look at the Meadowlands, Jeff Gural has made major improvements in the facility (soon the new grandstand will open) and has had better betting opportunities, better food and customer service and the Meadowlands has dramatically increased their attendance and their handle. In many instances the handle has been up an amazing 60 percent on many days. According to this issue of Bloodhorse, slots money in Maryland is going into a fund to for upkeep on the racing facilities. This should be a huge help for Pimlico and Laurel. I know at Aqueduct, much of the facility looks l
Nice work, Scott. You're #1 is ALWAYS my #1, too. Tracks need to lose the mentality that if they throw the doors open people will come and bet. Those days were gone 20 years ago or more. Stop treating patrons as degenerates and start treating them like CUSTOMERS and maybe they'll come back and you'll build a happy and loyal fan base!
Scott's list is good advice for many race tracks and racinos around the country!

Related Pages

Related Stories

Top Stories