By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
After a particularly harsh winter, Hoosier Park embraced spring and opened its track for horse racing again on Friday.
According to Vice President of Racing Rick Moore, the work to prepare for the 2014 season has hardly taken a break since the last race in November. Major renovations took place on the racing side over the winter, from the track itself to viewer accommodations. Moore said it’s all a part of trying to make the casino a leader in the harness racing industry.
“It’s been one thing after another,” Moore said.
The track surface was completely rebuilt over the winter, with agricultural lime and brown limestone now resting on the surface, and a uniform banking grade in every turn, which is designed to be more forgiving for the horses. Also done for the horses: The paddock area was upgraded and changed from single-stall gates to double-stall gates. The improvement provides twice the room for the animals.
Additionally, the viewing area has been enhanced with a new terrace grandstand, which contains mini-suites, and new betting terminals. A new driver lounge is expected to be finished on July 31.
Moore praised his staff, which worked in less-than-ideal conditions on many of the outside improvements.
Moore said there was also an emphasis added to improving social media at the track during the offseason. The casino invested in new Twitter software to encourage real-time feedback, and new tracking technology was added to make horse tracking easier for fans, particularly new fans.
“This is how people communicate now, and we want to be more accessible, especially to younger people,” Moore said.
Fans at the track on Friday night said they like the changes. Keith Ross of Belfast, Ohio, said the track is a vast improvement from past years. He said he visits Hoosier Park regularly during the racing season, and said the new look is beautiful.
“This is as nice as it gets for this size of track,” Ross said. “You can tell they did a really good job.”
Lindsey Clark, who came from Greentown with Zach Stevens to watch her brother Chad Clark race, also praised the new track, saying the banking will help the horses.
Watching from the fence outside, Natalie Bunnell of Evansville said she’s been coming to watch races for years and the park looks better than it ever has. Bunnell brought her children, Matthew and Anna, to watch relative Don Eash race.
Ed Dobrowolski of Indianapolis said he’s been coming to the track for about seven years. He said he loves the atmosphere and it reminds him of trips to horse tracks with his parents as a child. He said he was impressed with the improvements all around.
“Actually, the only thing I wish they’d change is have the racing year-round,” Dobrowolski said.
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