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February 23, 2013

Hoosier Park, Indiana Downs adopt ‘one breed, one track’

ANDERSON, Ind. — Don’t bet on thoroughbreds and quarter horses racing at Hoosier Park this summer.

From now on, the track will only race standardbreds.

The decision, approved in Indianapolis Friday by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, would move all thoroughbred and quarter horse races to Shelbyville’s Indiana Grand and Downs, which Hoosier Park’s parent company, Indianapolis-based Centaur Holdings, LLC, bought Wednesday.

The buy followed over two years of clearing regulatory hurdles, including getting the green light from both the Indiana Gaming and Horse Racing commissions.

In Indianapolis Friday, the latter formally approved the buy, meet schedules and Centaur’s decision to divvy up the breeds between the two tracks.

Dividing the breeds follows Centaur’s “one breed, one track” mantra, which is “in the best interest of racing and the state,” said IHRC chairman Bill Diener in December.

Brian Elmore, Centaur’s new vice president of racing, agreed, saying, “This is really the best thing. It’s safer for both the horses and the participants.”

Different breeds require different types of tracks, he said. Standardbreds, for example, need a firmer track than thoroughbreds.

Where before the tracks had to be converted back and forth, “Now, we’ll be able to set up each (track) specifically for the horses they race,” Elmore said. “We’re bringing in a pretty good team to do that.”

Dr. Mick Peterson, executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, will serve as lead consultant for the Shelbyville redesign. Anderson’s will be led by Greg Coon, a track designer from Florida.

Elmore expects both to start within the next 10 days and finish in time for the April meet kick-off.

“One breed, one track” also means both parks will have twice the number of race days, Elmore said.

Hoosier Park’s standardbred meet will go from 80 days to 160, running Tuesdays through Saturdays from April 2 to Nov. 9. Indiana Downs thoroughbred and quarter horse meet will go from 60 days to 120, running between April 23 and Oct. 19.  

Elmore added that “one breed, one track” also saves Centaur the cost of modifying the tracks for each meet, and translates to a $435,000 savings for horse breeders — $300 per horse — who would no longer need to move their animals back and forth.

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

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