Indy Downs Gets Dates; Turfway to Stay Open

The purchase of Indiana Downs by Centaur has set several changes in motion.

A day after Centaur Holdings announced its purchase of Indiana Downs had been finalized, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission Feb. 22 approved a plan to shift all 2013 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse dates to Indiana Downs.

Centaur also owns Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, which this year will host all the Standardbred dates. The "one breed, one track" plan was contingent on Centaur's purchase of Indiana Downs receiving all necessary regulatory approvals.

As part of the plan, Centaur will rent 150 stalls from Turfway Park in neighboring Kentucky. The Indiana allotment, along with commitments from other horsemen, will allow Turfway to remain open as a training center.

"That was the criteria," Turfway general manager Chip Bach said Feb. 22. "We had a sufficient commitment (for stalls) to remain open for the summer."

Indiana Downs won't be able to construct more stalls by a summer deadline because of environmental regulations, but says it will eventually do so.

Both Indiana Downs and Hoosier Park traditionally have run all breeds of racing. Both tracks have slot machines and other casino-related amenities.

Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing will be held at Indiana Downs from April 23-Oct. 19, according to the latest schedule. Live racing would be held four nights a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays) through June 20, and five nights a week (Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays and Saturdays) from July 1 through Oct. 19.

First post time would shift to a standard 6 p.m. EDT for most, if not all, programs. An official date for the grade II Indiana Derby, normally held the first Saturday of October at Hoosier Park, has not been set.

Indiana Downs has a one-mile dirt track and seven-furlong turf course. Hoosier Park has only a seven-furlong dirt track.

There has been talk Indiana Downs will provide shuttle service from Turfway, which is located about 90 minutes away. That couldn't be confirmed.

"We're very happy," Bach said. "This will give River Downs trainers options. We think we have a great opportunity given our location to be a great training center, and especially with our September dates gone, it's a great way to utilize the facility."

River Downs, located 20 minutes from Turfway in Ohio, will be a construction site this year and hopes to move its meet to Beulah Park near Columbus. The Ohio State Racing Commission has not yet been presented with an official agreement from the two parties.

Last year the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission gave Turfway's 2013 September dates to Churchill Downs, meaning there will be no live racing at Turfway from April through late November.

"Turfway being open for training will also help out Churchill Downs," Bach said.

Churchill is scheduled to race 12 programs in September, four fewer than Turfway has raced. It does, however, have the option to add four dates.