by James Platz
After having offered an unprecedented 193 days of live Standardbred, Thoroughbred, and Quarter Horse racing this season, Hoosier Park on Thursday submitted a request to the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for 120 days in 2002.
The state's changing racing landscape was cited as the reason for the scaled-down request. Hoosier Park must race a minimum of 120 days to operate satellite wagering facilities in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Merrillville.
"Our decision to request 120 race dates in 2002 is a necessary step given the changing landscape of the Indiana horse racing industry, and, we believe, prudent from a business standpoint," Hoosier Park president Rick Moore said. "With Indianapolis Downs scheduled to open in December 2002, it is not in the best interest of the track or Indiana racing for Hoosier Park to card more race programs than required by state law.
"Reducing race dates is a needed step to help ensure the longevity of Hoosier Park and our long-term participation in the Indiana horse racing industry."
Standardbred racing would suffer the greatest loss under the proposed racing schedule. Hoosier Park conducted 123 days of Standardbred racing this season, but next year, the meet would consist of 60 programs from April 25 to July 15.
Thoroughbred racing dates also would be reduced. Currently in the midst of a 70-day meet, Thoroughbreds would race only 60 programs, from Aug. 29 to Nov. 18. Quarter Horse racing would be conducted on 12 programs during the Thoroughbred meet.
Commission rules require race dates to be requested by Nov. 2 and issued by Dec. 31. Joe Gorajec, executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, said he expects Indianapolis Downs to apply for dates in December 2002.
The facility, to be located in Shelbyville, must open by Dec. 6, 2002, or be subject to daily fines. At the outset, it will only offer live harness racing.