Indiana Downs, which agreed to build new barns under a deal with horsemen and the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, opened two new barns Sept. 15.
Centaur Gaming, which acquired the Indiana racetrack earlier this year, agreed to build more barns as part of an overall plan to move all Thoroughbred racing to Indiana Downs, and make Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, which it also owns, an all-Standardbred track. Previously each track held meets for both breeds.
Centaur plans to build two more barns at Indiana Downs before the 2014 meet begins, according to a release. This year, the track reached an agreement with Turfway Park in Kentucky to house horses that have shipped to Indiana to race; Turfway, which won't hold live racing again until December, has remained open in the spring and summer to serve as a training center.
"This is a great thing for the sport in our state," said owner/trainer Marvin Johnson, who is based at Indiana Downs. "The increased stall space allows horsemen to establish roots in Indiana. Accommodations are important when choosing a track, and these are top-notch."
According to the release, the barns are state-of-the-art and can house a total of 152 horses. The 12-foot-square stalls offer increased space, ventilation, and temperature-controlled water.
Officials said the objective is to increase stall space at Indiana Downs by 50%.
Indiana Downs Oct. 5 will host the Indiana Derby and Indiana Oaks (both gr. II), which thus far have been run at Hoosier Park. The Thoroughbred meet ends in late October.
Still in the works is renovation of the dirt racing surface. Centaur had to agree to certain conditions in order for the "one-track, one-breed" plan to be approved.
"The barn completion makes a powerful statement in terms of Centaur's promises made and promises kept," Centaur Gaming president and chief operating officer Jim Brown said. "This marks a major step forward for Indiana racing as we continue to emerge as a national force in horse racing."
The shift of all Thoroughbred dates to Indiana Downs was viewed as advantageous because Indiana Downs has a seven-furlong turf course and a one-mile dirt track. Hoosier Park has a seven-eighths-mile main track and no grass course.