Indiana Downs Gets OK to Resume Live Racing

The state racing commission said allegations of a dangerous surface are unfounded.

Indiana Downs got the go-ahead to resume training June 16 and live racing June 18 after the Indiana Horse Racing Commission ruled horsemen’s assertions the dirt surface is unsafe were “unfounded and uncorroborated.”

The IHRC issued the notice June 15 after a morning investigation of the racing surface at the track located southeast of Indianapolis. Two live racing programs on June 15-16 were lost after the IHRC, citing a potential threat to horses and jockeys, took action based on comments from horsemen.

More than 40 horsemen earlier in the week had signed a petition alleging unsafe conditions. However, one of the track’s biggest programs, featuring the $200,000 Oliver Stakes on the turf, was held as scheduled June 13. Indiana Downs was dark June 14.

The June 15 directive from IHRC executive director Joe Gorajec said Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association members claims indicating the surface is dangerous were inaccurate. All stakeholders were interviewed, and “no further action is necessary,” Gorajec said.

Horsemen had complained the dirt surface was too hard and producing fast times that threatened the welfare of horses and jockeys. Gorajec on June 14 said Indiana Downs, which began racing in late April, is on track to have one of its safest meets numbers-wise.

The loss of two days could help Indiana Downs in the long run as far as purse money is concerned. According to sources the track has all but used up its purse allotment for state-bred races with about a month to go in the meet; more of those races were necessary earlier in the meet when open races failed to fill.

The overnight sheets for June 15-16 show two $36,000 allowance races for Indiana-breds that may or may not be rescheduled.

Indiana Downs, which has slot machines that contribute revenue to purses, is in bankruptcy. Earlier this year Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, Indiana’s other racetrack, indicated interest in making a bid for the operation.