Thoroughbred racing's newest track opens April 11, and the opening-night entry box showed plenty of interest by horsemen.
Indiana Downs, located adjacent to Interstate 74 near Shelbyville, Ind., just southeast of Indianapolis, has 155 horses entered for 13 races on opening night. Seven of the races lured full fields of 12 or more horses.
April 11 is opening night, but it's not the first opener, and it's not the official opener. Indiana Downs opened last December with a one-month Standardbred "preview" meet, and will hold its Thoroughbred grand opening the afternoon of April 12.
Post time opening day is 6:30 p.m. (Indiana stays on standard time year-round.) On April 12, post time is 2 p.m. Indiana Downs will race Wednesdays through Saturdays in April, and Tuesdays through Saturdays in May. First post is 6:30 p.m., with a special afternoon program on Memorial Day.
The April 12 card will feature Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse stakes. The opening-night feature is a $16,200 allowance event for 3-year-olds and up.
The biggest spoils are two $18,200 maiden special weight events for Indiana-breds. Both lured fields of 12 with four also-eligibles, no surprise given the pots and the fact Indiana-bred races haven't been held since Hoosier Park wrapped up its Thoroughbred meet last fall.
Many trainers and jockeys from the recently concluded Turfway Park meet are scheduled to compete at Indiana Downs. Gary Patrick, the leading owner and trainer, respectively, at the 2002 Hoosier meet, figures to be well-represented at the entry box.