ANDERSON — Harness drivers were turned into handicappers on Thursday and their effectiveness in that role will be determined Saturday night.
On that night, the first round of the 2014 Champion Driver Series will take place at Hoosier Park.
The top 10 drivers from the current season at HP will compete for points as well as purses in races 6 through 10 as they vie for the title in the first edition of this competition.
This is a reversal of the norm in a couple of ways for these five Saturday races. Normally the trainers of the horses will request certain drivers to be at the helm of those horses each night. But at the post draw luncheon program Thursday, the drivers got to make the picks in draft order.
The second reversal was turning the drivers into handicappers as they tried to select the best horse out of those that remained when it was their turn to pick. Each race the drivers will be awarded anywhere from 1 to 15 points depending on their finish in the race. The points accumulate over the five races and through five more that will be contested on Sept. 27.
"I think this is a great idea," said track announcer Steve Cross after the picks have been made. "This gets the drivers involved in the handicapping process. I think in a couple of races even the drivers who picked in the middle have got some live shots at winning."
The 10 drivers involved on Saturday are; Trace Tetrick, Sam Widger, Ricky Macomber, Brad Hanners, Andy Shetler, Lewayne Miller, Ross Leonard, Ed Hensley, Trent Stohler and Mike Peterson.
"Most people who handicap races will see different things and make different choices," said Emily Gaskin, Hoosier Park's director of publicity. "But these are the guys who sit behind the horses every night. It was interesting to see what these drivers use to pick their horses."