Few Changes in Indiana's 2005 Date Request

By James Platz
Indiana's 2005 racing calendar could be summed up in two words: status quo. Earlier this month the Indiana Horse Racing Commission requested proposed race dates from Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs. Both racetracks have asked for Standardred and Thoroughbred dates consistent with their 2004 schedules.

Hoosier Park has submitted a proposal calling for 120 total race dates split evenly between harness racing and Thoroughbred racing. The Anderson facility would offer harness racing March 19 to June 11 on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule. The Thoroughbred meet, also slated as Wednesday through Sunday, would begin Sept. 1 and conclude Nov. 20.

Despite soft numbers and short fields during the opening weekend of the current Thoroughbred meet – the track opened on Labor Day weekend – Hoosier Park president and general manager Rick Moore said track officials still want to open during the holiday weekend in 2005. He said management may entertain adjustments in the schedule to avoid the crush to fill races while so many other racetracks are closing out their programs that same weekend.

Indiana Downs has asked for a racing calendar that includes 130 total dates – 48 Thoroughbred and 82 Standardbred. The schedule is nearly identical to the Shelbyville track's 2004 offerings, with one small exception. Indiana Downs officials have decided to abandon Sunday matinee programs during both meets in favor of Tuesday evening racing. The Thoroughbred meet would be contested April 15 to June 18 with a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. The harness meet would begin July 1 and conclude Oct. 29.

"We knew we had good export handle on our Tuesday programs last year," Indiana Downs general manager Jon Schuster said of the proposed switch from Sunday to Tuesday racing. "We feel like we have a better chance of growing the simulcast market on Tuesdays."

Race dates must be adopted by the IHRC, which is scheduled to meet Sept. 20. Dates requests are on the meeting agenda, but a final calendar may not be approved for several months.

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