Indiana Panel OKs Guild Patch, Racing Dates

by James Platz

Jockeys in Indiana have been granted permission by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission to display the Jockeys' Guild patch on their riding pants, but corporate advertising won't be permitted.

"The patch is innocuous and for a good cause," commission executive director Joe Gorajec told commission members at a Sept. 20 meeting. "I would strongly recommend to the commission to allow jockeys to wear the patch."

Chairman Richard Darko spoke in favor of allowing the patch on riding pants, but he also stressed the difference between the patch and corporate sponsorships. To make the distinction as clear as possible, it was recommended by Darko that commission rules be amended to state that the Jockeys' Guild patch would be the only exception.

"I think there is a big difference between the two," Darko said. "Each brings different issues to bear."

The move by Indiana regulators is a proactive measure in hope of avoiding a situation similar to what occurred this spring in Kentucky, where that state's racing commission said the patch violated the rules of racing. Jockeys then sued, and their case was upheld in court.

In other business, the commission awarded 2005 racing dates for Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs.

Hoosier Park will offer 60 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse programs from Sept. 3-Nov. 25. Indiana Downs will offer 48 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse programs from April 15-June 18.

Standardbred racing will be held at Hoosier Park from April 2-June 25 (60 days), while Indiana Downs will offer harness racing from July 1-Oct. 29 (82 days).

Hoosier Park will race on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule, while Indiana Downs will drop Sundays in favor of a Tuesday-through-Saturday slate.

"While it wasn't a failure, frankly, it wasn't the success we hoped it would be," Indiana Downs general manager Jon Schuster said of Sunday matinees. The track expects export handle to be much higher on Tuesday evenings, he said.

Before both calendars were adopted, members of the Thoroughbred community voiced their displeasure over the lack of summer racing. The representatives said horsemen had difficulty getting their runners ready for a spring meet at Indiana Downs, and wanted to close the two-month gap between meets.

"I've never understood why two weeks is too much but two months isn't," Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Jerry Walker told the commissioners in reference to the gaps in Indiana's racing calendar.