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Indianapolis, Ind. – July 23, 2016 – The racing landscape is changing. The metamorphosis has been underway for some time. It’s a battle of the haves and have-nots: venues with casinos and those seeking to add them. Merely having a casino on the grounds, however, does not solve all racing woes. Operators have been knocked for treating racing as a line item, tolerated but not embraced. And the decoupling headlines from Florida earlier this year certainly didn’t help to dispel that notion.
In Indiana, Centaur, owner of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and thoroughbred facility Indiana Grand, is approaching horse racing with a different perspective. Management is taking an active role in promoting the sport and industry. The goal is to create a win-win situation where together new heights are reached.
“I think it’s understood that all of these pieces fit together, and we’re not going to do a second-rate job on any part of the business that we operate,” said Jim Brown, Centaur president & COO. “If you look at it, racing brought us to the table. Racing brought a casino to Hoosier Park. And racing brought a casino to Indiana Grand.”
In June 2008, Hoosier Park became one of the coveted tracks with a racino when Centaur opened the doors to a 92,000 square-foot facility. The casino, and revenue set aside for the racing industry, has become a catalyst for Indiana’s improved breeding and racing.
Brown talks passionately about standardbred racing in Indiana. It is more than a line item in his view; it’s a critical piece of the entertainment experience at the Anderson facility. When he refers to those “pieces” fitting together, it’s the combination of racing, gaming, dining and entertainment. Friday night (July 22) for instance, patrons coming out for the Kenny Rogers concert could have enjoyed a great meal in the clubhouse while taking in a full card of racing beforehand. That’s three opportunities for the facility to shine.
“We look at our business as a multi-faceted business, particularly racing, gaming and entertainment. If you look at the fan side, we want to provide them the best experience possible,” Brown said. “Whether it’s racing, gaming, dining or entertainment. We want, as a team, to be the best that we can be and provide the best that is available.”
That desire to be the best takes shape on the racing side in many ways. First, Centaur has invested millions in capital projects focused on elevating racing with the hopes that it can become the best in the nation. The projects are a mix of improvements meant for fans as well as horsemen racing in Central Indiana. The company partnered with the state’s horseman’s association to bring the Breeders Crown to Hoosier Park in 2017. They have added Trakus, are broadcasting racing in high definition, and added a passing lane. With chairman and CEO Rod Ratcliff as the driving force, Centaur has aggressively worked to show harness racing in the best light, and the efforts have been noticed by those in and outside Indiana.
“When compared to other racetracks they go out of their way to accommodate horsemen. They don’t mess around; they get things done,” said Roger Welch, a longtime Illinois horseman stabled at Hoosier Park for the first time this season. “I can’t speak highly enough of Centaur and Hoosier Park. I’ve been around other tracks and talk to my friends that race in other states. The horsemen don’t have this kind of relationship with track owners.”
Showing racing in its best light and teaming with the horsemen is paying off. Over the last four years, the Hoosier Park racing product has enjoyed significant gains in the simulcast area. This year Brown says handle is up 15 per cent over last year’s business levels. Last week, the Hoosier Park signal was picked up by the Las Vegas sports books for the first time in five years. The signal is also exported to Australia. It’s no secret that conducting racing is not a profitable venture, but Brown views it as an important cog to not only the facility and the entertainment options available to patrons, but Indiana’s burgeoning standardbred industry.
“Right now, from a profitability standpoint, we don’t make money particularly in racing, but we don’t make a profit in housekeeping. That doesn’t mean we’re going to let our facilities be dirty. We may not make a profit in food and beverage, but we’re still going to provide the best food and beverage product possible to our customers. From a business standpoint, it’s the intangibles rather than a financial statement,” he explained. “The rising tide raises all boats. We’re all on these boats together. There has always been an interest and a passion in forwarding and contributing to the improvement of the sport overall, but specifically in the state of Indiana. It’s something that is a responsibility that we have, but it’s one we take on joyously and really want to move Indiana racing to the top of the national scene.”
Harness racing’s “Big Three” of Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete and Wiggle It Jiggleit have helped the tide rise, bringing significant attention to the Indiana breeding program. And while Hoosier Park benefits from that added attention, management is also working on grassroots efforts to cultivate new racing fans. The First Turn Stable is the latest in a series of progressive ideas aimed at creating an experience that will keep fans coming back. Hoosier Park publicly offered 50 fractional ownership shares in a racehorse earlier this year for $250 apiece. This group of owners will experience the excitement of racing throughout the season in a risk-free endeavor. Should their horse finish the season in the red, the owners are not on the hook for the shortfall. If the stable turns a profit, it will be split among the owners. Again, management is focused less on balance sheets and fiduciary responsibility and more on providing a memorable experience.
“We look at the big picture, but we also look at the smaller picture. There are components that can be put in place to help improve racing from a fan perspective,” Brown noted. “First Turn Stable is an opportunity to allow someone to become a first-time owner of a horse. Maybe that turns into owning a horse on their own, or owning multiple horses. We want to continue to help grow the industry. We want to promote and contribute to a sport that’s given a lot to us and to see that industry and sport become what our hopes, dreams and visions wanted it to be.”
Shelbyville, Ind. — July 24, 2016 – Construction continues with exterior walls now giving shape to the Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital near Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville, and the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine has hired a board-certified equine surgeon to lead the medical team that will treat equine patients.
Timm Gudehus will start as clinical assistant professor of equine surgery in October. The facility is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
As a satellite facility of the College of Veterinary Medicine, the hospital will provide specialty medical and surgical services for horse owners while also supporting equine research and education of future equine specialists. Its location is just a few miles from the track at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino and within an hour’s drive of Hoosier Park in Anderson.
Gudehus comes to Indiana from Germany, where he has been an equine surgery specialist since 2012. Passionate about horses and equestrian sports since early childhood, and experienced as a semi-professional rider of show jumpers, he went to veterinary school in Munich.
After earning the German equivalent of the veterinarian degree and completing an internship in Munich, he came to the United States for an internship in equine orthopedics in California, followed by a residency in equine surgery at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.
“This additional training in the U.S. exposed me to all the equine disciplines that I hadn’t seen, especially thoroughbreds, racing quarter horses and a little bit of Western performance,” Gudehus said. “That was followed by two years as a staff surgeon in Auckland, New Zealand, which added the very last discipline that I hadn’t worked on, which was standardbreds.”
Gudehus returned to Germany with his wife, an American citizen and small animal veterinarian, to become the leading surgeon of one of the largest animal hospitals in Europe, where he worked on Olympic-level warm-blood horses.
“I am excited about the fact that pretty much all these equine disciplines are gathered around the new facility in Shelbyville. I really hope that people will look at this and say, ‘Cool, here’s somebody who otherwise we would have to fly in,’ to do exactly what I will be providing at this facility,” Gudehus said. “I also am really excited to work on racehorses again. My heart beats with the speed horses.”
Willie Reed, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, said Gudehus’ experience and expertise, and the state-of-the-art facility, will be great resources for the Indiana equine industry.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the way in which the dream of a world-class equine specialty hospital in proximity to our state’s two racetracks is becoming a reality,” Reed said.
In addition to recruiting Gudehus, two equine veterinary technologists have been hired. They are training in the Purdue Large Animal Hospital in West Lafayette before moving to the facility in Shelbyville when it opens.
The Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital will offer advanced diagnostic imaging, shockwave therapy, nuclear medicine, regenerative medicine, endoscopic laser surgery and specialized equine orthopedic and soft tissue surgery.
Site preparation for the facility began last fall, and construction started in the spring.
The $8.8 million, 18,000-square-foot structure is being built on land purchased by the Purdue Research Foundation, with $2.3 million in support from Shelby County and the City of Shelbyville. Centaur Gaming, which owns and operates Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and Hoosier Park, pledged $3.1 million to name the facility.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino’s New Haven OTB Taking on new BBQ Brand, Menu
New Haven, Ind. – March 11, 2016 – Hoosier Park Racing & Casino announced today the addition of Louisiana-based VooDoo BBQ & Grill to its Winner’s Circle Brewpub & OTB location in New Haven. The newly redesigned restaurant and menu will officially open to the public on Tuesday, April 12 at 11 a.m. The Winner’s Circle Brewpub & OTB will remain open throughout renovations.
The New Orleans–style, full-service barbecue restaurant, known for serving slow-smoked barbecue favorites with a signature Caribbean, Cajun, and Creole twist, will make the New Haven location its 22nd franchise and second venture into the Midwest, with the first being at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson. VooDoo BBQ & Grill currently operate locations in the states of Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas.
“Since introducing this dining concept last year at Hoosier Park, our guests have given their resounding approval of VooDoo BBQ & Grill’s unique combination of slow-smoked quality and originality,” said Jim Brown, Centaur Gaming’s president and COO. “We are excited for the opportunity to add this restaurant to the New Haven Winner’s Circle Brewpub & OTB and bring a popular New Orleans atmosphere and made-from-scratch southern menu to the Fort Wayne-area market.”
The menu highlights BBQ standards such as brisket, pork, and chicken, along with traditional New Orleans dishes like red beans and rice with smoked sausage, barbecue jambalaya, and French Quarter–style beignets. The restaurant also features southern homemade sides like Gris Gris Greens, corn pudding, and sweet potato soufflé.
Indianapolis – (BizVoice Magazine) – Jan/Feb 2016 – Indiana’s affinity for horse racing is hardly a recent development. Hoosier author Lew Wallace (included in this edition on Page 70) even featured the sport in his best-selling late 1800s novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which was set in Biblical times.
The economics of horse racing, however, have shifted in the last few years. Board members of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission (IHRC) voted in October 2015 to remove the long-time executive director. The IHRC plans to focus more on marketing the industry going forward, in an effort to expand the in-state economic impact.
In fact, the Legislature passed a law in 2015 making industry promotion a part of the IHRC director’s job and added $400,000 to its annual marketing budget. The benefit to the agriculture industry alone is noteworthy. A 2013 Purdue University report (based on a 2009 study) tallied an annual state impact at over $1 billion, generating $69 million in state and local tax revenues. The report also estimated the industry provides the equivalent of 1,240 full-time jobs in the state. Hoosier Park (located in Anderson) owner/operator Centaur Gaming now owns both of Indiana’s “racino” horse tracks after acquiring Shelbyville-based Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in 2013.
It is parlaying that control to benefit Hoosier horse owners – and ultimately provide jobs. Incentive programs are now in place to enhance purse winnings and other awards for Indiana-bred and Indiana-sired horses. “So many times, somebody from Kentucky comes in, races their horse and takes it back,” explains Centaur Chairman and CEO Rod Ratcliff. “If you run the economics of that, there’s not a lot in it for the state of Indiana. But if that horse is out there on a farm in Plainfield, (the owner is) buying feed, straw, hay, tack and going to the local stores – that’s real economic development.”
One breed, one track Since taking over Indiana Grand, Centaur has made facility enhancement a priority. Among the many improvements have been constructing five new barns, adding a Jumbotron screen and new tote board at the track, and overhauling its aesthetics. “Indiana Grand’s track equipment is becoming state of the art,” says Centaur President and COO Jim Brown, noting the necessity of the updates. “Some of the equipment (that was there before) isn’t even being serviced anymore.”
Another major development was the implementation of the One Breed, One Track program, which allows each facility to cater to specific types of racing. Hoosier Park now solely features Standardbred horses (harness racing), while Indiana Grand caters to Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. “When we acquired Indiana Grand, we stripped both tracks down to their bases and rebuilt them so we have two of the highest quality racing surfaces in the country,” Brown reports. “It also allowed harness horses to race on the track that was designed for them, and
Upgrading the track at Indiana Grand was a top priority for Centaur Gaming once it took over operations in 2013. January/February 2016 – BizVoice/Indiana Chamber 85 State Tourism Thoroughbreds to race on the track designed for them. That’s helped our business both from the live standpoint and for wagering across the country.” Centaur asserts that owning both tracks and making decisions with the horsemen in mind helps lay the groundwork for a thriving industry in the state. Eash Racing Stables owner Don Eash, who has over 100 Standardbred horses on 130 acres in Greenfield, concurs. “I think it’s a big plus,” affirms Eash, who began in Goshen and has been in the business for nearly 20 years. “(The tracks) are definitely promoting horse racing and are in it for the racing just as much as the casino end of it.
The horsemen work with the tracks because we all have common goals – to stay in business and make the business grow. In some states, the casino is the cash cow and just puts up with the horsemen because they have to in order to have their casino.” Ratcliff elaborates, noting such collaboration within the industry is a unique point of pride for Hoosiers. “In this state, (owners of) the Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Quarter Horses and track owners all come together,” he relays. “We probably meet on an average of once every two months in some fashion or another.
We all work together to make our next moves pull the industry forward.” Not so ‘standard’ When it comes to breeds, Indiana is excelling as a hotbed for Standardbreds. “The quality of horses, especially the Standardbreds, have come a long way in the 20 years I’ve been involved,” Ratcliff surmises. “People can make a good life for themselves by owning a Standardbred farm today in the state of Indiana; that’s come a long way.” He goes on to call Indiana’s Standardbred program “probably the best in the United States.” Depending on the metrics used, Maryland and Pennsylvania are also highly regarded, but Ratcliff asserts Indiana’s tracks, pari-mutuel betting and environment for owners set it above the rest.
Furthermore, when contrasted with other states in middle America, Indiana remains a furlong ahead. “Ohio is ticking up a little, but (racing in) Illinois essentially doesn’t exist, and Michigan’s basically gone. We are the shining star in the Midwest for racing,” Ratcliff states. “The climate for owning Standardbreds in Indiana is definitely favorable,” Eash agrees. “The program is set up right where you can get started at an entry level and you have a shot at making money and making a business out of it. There’s also plenty of room to grow.” Brown adds, “At this year’s Breeders Crown races held in Toronto (in October 2015), Indiana-sired horses won three out of the 12 races,” evidence that the state’s budding reputation is well earned. Hoosier Park will host the 2017 Breeders Crown – a major development considering the series is considered the Standardbred equivalent of the Breeders Cup for Thoroughbreds.
Going off track Casinos aren’t the only mechanisms to offer horse racing excitement. Centaur features off-track betting (OTB) Winner’s Circle sites in downtown Indianapolis, Shelbyville and New Haven – and an off-track operation in Clarksville. However, Brown estimates 25% of off-track wagering is now conducted through the Internet on sites like TwinSpires (owned by Churchill Downs), so making offtrack sites attractive destinations is imperative. “We built a new business model, which wasn’t betting on races and getting a hamburger,” Brown says. “It was an integrated entertainment experience of a brewpub with good food and the experience of horse racing in a more upscale, fun environment suited to the location. Our Winner’s Circle (in downtown Indianapolis) has a different feel than the one in New Haven, which is different than the one in Indiana Grand. It has to make couples and groups want to come to the facility. “It’s a different look than the old OTBs we used to see in movies that had the black and white checkered floors and the cages on the windows, and guys sitting in the corner smoking cigars.” Adjusting the saddle When asked about the challenges facing the industry, Ratcliff bluntly answers, “Drugs.” He expects Indiana, though, to remain a leader in regulation and integrity. “The problem is there’s not a unified drug policy,” he posits. “There are horses that can race in Ohio, but not in Indiana.
There are horses that can race in Indiana, but not, say, in Florida. A unified drug policy would help the industry out tremendously. It would make it fairer and easier to grow versus the way it is today, but I think there is some headway being made on that front and Congress is trying to address it. Hopefully the states that are all involved in it will get together and solve the issue.” Brown adds the diversity of entertainment options is also a critical consideration.
That’s why Centaur has found creative ways to encourage patronage, like concerts with notable headliners and promotions that get concessions and betting programs in the hands of customers. “Another challenge is the horse racing industry nationally has been on the decline,” Brown adds. “These aren’t the 1940s with Seabiscuit and baseball, boxing and horse racing as the top spectator sports in the U.S. And from a gambling perspective, it’s the age of instant gratification; there’s innumerable casinos and all sorts of things on the Internet. So a mainstay in the economics of horse racing is getting people to wager on your horse races.
That impact then goes out to all 92 counties in Indiana, which leads to other investment.” ‘Place your vets!’ Purdue not only gauges the economics of horse racing; the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine has plans to impact it with the school’s new Centaur Equine Diagnostic and Surgical Center in Shelbyville (near Indiana Grand). The facility will provide specialty medical and surgical services, support equine research and educate future specialists. The land was purchased by the Purdue Continued on page 88 Purdue’s Dr. Laurent L. Couëtil (far right) talks with students while Crystal Hagan, large animal medicine technician, works with a horse on the equine treadmill. 88 BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – January/February 2016 Research Foundation with $2.3 million in support from Shelby County and the city of Shelbyville. (Centaur Gaming also pledged $3.1 million for naming rights.)
The pursuit of such a facility began in 2007 when Willie Reed, dean of Purdue’s veterinary school, began talks with industry professionals. “They told me about the needs in the Shelby County area and the difficulties in transporting injured and sick animals all the way to West Lafayette or to an equine hospital in Kentucky,” he recalls. “They said it would be great if we had a satellite hospital or some type of a facility between the two racetracks.” He anticipates the center will conduct research, particularly relating to performance. “Our faculty will be able to do research there that they can’t do here on campus because we don’t have easy access to a racetrack or equine subjects for some of the studies,” Reed elaborates. “The principle goal of the project is to provide clinical diagnostic service to the equine industry, whether racing horses or pleasure horses. It extends our outreach or engagement mission of the college, and secondarily we’ll be able to train future equine surgeons, which is something we’ll do later on.”
The facility is expected to be completed in November, and its mission could potentially expand in the future. “There are other related activities we’d like to do, like expanding the hospital to be a full-service hospital and perhaps adding rehabilitation medicine,” Reed adds. “I’m told that’s something we really need in Indiana, so we hope we can do that someday.”
Shelbyville – (Shelby News) – Oct. 20, 2015- A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Centaur Equine Diagnostic and Surgical Center at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino Tuesday afternoon.
The $8.8 million facility, of which the city of Shelbyville and Shelby County donated a combined $2.3 million, will be a satellite facility of the Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
“This truly is a dream come true. When I became dean back in 2007, one of the first things I heard about was the need to establish a state-of-the-art equine referral hospital in the vicinity of the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.
“Our college has a long history of delivering top-notch, high-quality medical and surgical treatment for equine patients through our large animal hospital and sports medicine center in West Lafayette. But that location sometimes limits the hospital’s accessibility. The idea of the new facility in Shelbyville will hold promise for expanding the range of cases that could be referred to the kind of advanced treatment available at veterinary teaching hospitals,” said Willie Reed, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and professor of anatomic pathology.
The one-story facility, which is located a few miles from Indiana Grand and about an hour from Hoosier Park in Anderson, will offer shockwave therapy, diagnostic imaging, regenerative medicine, endoscopy laser surgery, specialized equine orthopedic surgery and specialized equine surgery.
Work began on the site of the future 18,000-square-foot building earlier this month and is expected to be completed by 2016.
Besides the money donated by the city and the county, this project had considerable backing from Centaur Gaming, the owners of both Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park, which pledged $3.1 million to the completion and naming of the new facility.
“Shelbyville and Shelby County are excited about the groundbreaking for the new Centaur Equine Diagnostic and Surgical Center,” said Mayor Tom DeBaun in a press release. “This project is a great model of public and private partnerships between the City of Shelbyville, Shelby County, Centaur Gaming and Purdue University. Now that construction is beginning, we look forward to the completion of a beautiful equine specialty referral hospital that will have a significant positive impact on our community.”
Commissioner Kevin Nigh also spoke at the event and also looked forward to the positive impact the center could have on the city and county.
“We believe that from now on, Shelbyville and Shelby County will become known as the thoroughbred capital of Indiana. And we believe that this will allow us a great opportunity to build upon this beginning and increase our efforts to draw more agro-science businesses to come here and be part of our shared vision with you, in creating a new Indiana agro-science center. This so called agro-science cluster is a concept that already has the full support of our city and county leaders and we are committed to backing it with our financial and human resources,” Nigh said, before thanking everyone for their support and efforts.
The ceremony ended with those who were instrumental in bringing this new facility to light breaking ceremonial ground in front of the race track.
Indianapolis – (Bloodhorse) – September 10, 2015 – Centaur Gaming, which owns and operates Indiana-based Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, and several off-track betting facilities, has joined the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity.
The coalition, whose membership also includes the Breeders’ Cup Ltd., the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medicine Association, The Jockey Club, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders, the MeadowlandsRacetrack, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, and the Water Hay Oats Alliance, supports the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015.
Introduced in July 2015 in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), the act will direct the non-governmental, non-profit U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to create an independent, racing-specific, non-governmental and non-profit organization to work collaboratively with state racing commissions and their respective staff members throughout the country.
“Centaur Gaming is absolutely dedicated to bringing the highest quality and best experience possible to racing enthusiasts and bettors in Indiana and throughout the Midwest,” said Centaur chairman and CEO Rod Ratcliff in a release from the coalition. “The legislation endorsed by the coalition would not only increase fairness for the men and women who wager their hard-earned dollars on racing, but would preserve the future of a sport around which our industry is built. Centaur Gaming and the racetracks, casinos, and OTB facilities we represent are proud to join the coalition in its efforts toward the uniform regulation of medication testing and enforcement in horse racing.”
Leadership Continuity Central to Indiana Grand, Hoosier Park Appointments
Anderson and Shelbyville, Ind. – July 16, 2015 – Indianapolis-based Centaur Gaming announced Thursday the appointments of Jahnae Erpenbach to the position of vice president and general manager of gaming for Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville and Michael Facenda to vice president and general manager of gaming for Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson. Both will be responsible for all gaming related operations and departments at their respective properties and report to Jim Brown, Centaur Gaming president and COO. Brown, who took on additional duties as Indiana Grand general manager in 2014, will continue in his position as Centaur Gaming president and COO. Erpenbach and Facenda will transition into their new roles on August 17, pending final Indiana Gaming Commission approval.
“With this announcement we further position Centaur Gaming for continued success by elevating two top-notch executives in Jahnae and Michael and having Jim continue in his role at Centaur guiding the operations of a company with destinations in nearly every corner of Indiana,” said Rod Ratcliff, Centaur Gaming chairman and CEO. “Through Hoosier Park, Indiana Grand, and the multiple Winner’s Circle Brewpub & OTB locations, Centaur Gaming is an Indiana-owned and operated success story and one that we look forward to growing.”
Erpenbach, who most recently served as Hoosier Park’s vice president and general manager of gaming, joined Centaur Gaming’s pre-opening team as Hoosier Park’s director of marketing in 2007 and was promoted to vice president of marketing in 2009, prior to moving to her current position in 2011. Her previous 25 years of casino and hospitality industry experience helped build the business and shape the image of Indiana’s first gaming and racing facility. Before joining Centaur Gaming, Erpenbach served as the executive director of marketing for Penn National Gaming’s Empress Casino in Joliet, Illinois.
A Southern Illinois University graduate, Erpenbach is an active member of the Madison County community and serves on the boards of multiple non-profits and community organizations. Most recently, she was the recipient of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce 2015 Chairman’s Award for Community Service and the Athena Organization’s 2013 Community Shining Star Award.
Facenda joined Centaur Gaming as Indiana Grand’s vice president of marketing in 2013 before most recently serving as vice president and assistant general manager of gaming where he aided in successfully integrating gaming and racing operations at the Shelbyville property. A native of Margate, New Jersey and former vice president of marketing for Firekeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Michigan, he brings 25 years of casino operations and marketing experience to his new role at Hoosier Park.
Michael is a graduate of Rowan University and a committed community partner through service on the Rupert’s Kids Organization Board of Directors as well as leading company-wide initiatives to benefit the Shelby County Toys for Tots and Shelby County United Fund For You programs.
Jim Brown, Centaur Gaming president and COO added, “Jahnae and Michael have shown an ongoing dedication to excellence for our customers, our team members, and the communities in which we operate. They will undoubtedly bring that same commitment of purpose to their new positions. We value the continuity in leadership these appointments represent along with the fresh perspectives they will bring to Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park in further enhancing these award-winning properties.”
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – July 8, 2015 – WISH-TV’s President and General Manager Les Vann today announced a new partnership with Centaur Gaming, the owners of Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. The broadcast partnership kicks off on Saturday, July 18, 2015 with coverage of the Indiana Oaks and Indiana Derby live from Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville.
“WISH-TV is thrilled to bring the excitement of horse racing to viewers across Central Indiana,” said Vann. “This year’s Indiana Oaks and Indiana Derby offer a very impressive list of nominees. Both promise to be exciting races for fans to watch live on WISH-TV. We look forward to continue working with Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park to bring more horse racing, original content, and special events to live television.”
“Centaur Gaming immediately saw the value in a strategic television partnership with WISH-TV given their solid reputation and reach not only in the Indianapolis-area but throughout much of Indiana,” said Jim Brown, Centaur Gaming President, COO and Indiana Grand General Manager. “We look forward to entertaining their viewers with live broadcasts of our biggest races at Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park as well as showcasing what has made our destinations the best in gaming, racing, dining, and entertainment in Indiana.”
WISH-TV’s coverage begins at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 18 and includes the live running of both the Indiana Oaks and Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino. Heading the list of nominations are Illinois Derby winner Whiskey Ticket and Ohio Derby winner Mr. Z. In all, 10 of the 57 horses nominated to the Indiana Derby ran in one or more of the historical Triple Crown races this season that saw American Pharoah win the Triple Crown, which had not been accomplished since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. Among those nominated for the Indiana Derby, 13 of the horses have competed against American Pharoah, showing the depth of talent on the list.
Todd Pletcher leads the trainers with the most horses nominated to the Indiana Derby with nine from his stable on the list. Leading the charge from his barn is Materiality, winner of the Grade I $1 million Florida Derby. Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert has nominated three horses and may attempt a fourth win in the 21st running of the Indiana Derby.
Purdue Approves Equine Surgery Center, Ag Sciences Facility
Shelybyville – June 5, 2015 – (TheHorse.com) – A new $60 million Agricultural and Life Sciences Facility that was designated as Purdie University’s top priority in a 10-year capital plan submitted to the state was given the green light to move forward by the school’s Board of Trustees on May 15. The board also took actions to advance an equine diagnostic and surgical center in Shelbyville, Indiana.
Trustees authorized planning, financing, construction, and awarding of a construction contract for the approximately 123,000 gross-square-foot Agricultural and Life Sciences Facility complex, to be built at the intersection of S. Russell and Harrison streets. The building will consolidate Department of Animal Sciences students, faculty, and staff into a unified complex to better coordinate teaching, research and engagement activities, as well as provide needed upgrades to teaching, research, and meat lab facilities.
“This new location will provide the facilities needed to maintain our continued recognition as a premier program and attract top students and faculty, as well as to support the animal industries in our state and around the world at the highest levels,” said Jay Akridge, MS, PhD, Purdue’s Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “In addition, the location near the Life and Health Sciences Park and adjacent to Discovery Park will allow us to enhance collaboration among our college and the colleges of Engineering, Health and Human Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine.”
Construction is projected to begin in February 2016, with occupancy slated for July 2017.
Trustees approved requesting assistance from the Purdue Research Foundation to assume responsibility for the design and construction of the $8.8 million Centaur Regional Equine Diagnostic and Surgical Center, which will be located in Shelbyville near Indiana Downs.
The state-of-the-art facility will provide health services to horses and serve as a working laboratory to support the College of Veterinary Medicine’s student learning and research.
“This is an exciting partnership that will provide expanded training opportunities for our future equine specialists,” said Willie Reed, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVP, ACPV, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and professor of veterinary anatomic pathology. “We will have a cutting-edge facility to facilitate groundbreaking research and administer emergency medical services in a location near Indiana Grand.”
The center will be built on land purchased by Purdue Research Foundation with $2.3 million in support from Shelby County and city of Shelbyville. Centaur Gaming, which owns and operates Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, has pledged $3.1 million to name the facility.
‘Jockeys & Jeans’ Event Big Help to PDJF
Shelbyville – June 4, 2015 – (BloodHorse) – The second “Jockeys & Jeans” fundraiser, held at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino May 30, raised $201,078 for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund through sponsorships, ticket sales, donations, and live and silent auctions that featured more than 100 items.
“Bringing Jockeys & Jeans to Indiana and to the Midwest is another step our company has taken in our commitment to horse racing,” said Jim Brown, president and chief operating officer of Indiana Grand owner Centaur Inc. and general manager of Indiana Grand. “Both of our properties, Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park, continue to work toward the betterment of the sport, and organizations such as PDJF are vital to the growth and well-being of the horseracing industry.”
Jeff Boone and Associates Auctioneers provided all services for the night as a gift to the event, which also included online bidding and live streaming bidding during the live auction. The auctions brought in a total of $87,250; the highest item was a one-of-a-kind Billy Lopa painting that brought $30,000.
With a large crowd on track for the event, pari-mutuel wagering was up, track officials said. Total handle for the 10-race card was $969,088, the second-highest of the season for a Saturday night.
“It was by far the largest single-day fundraiser in the history of PDJF and far surpassed the amount raised in the inaugural Jockeys & Jeans event,” said Centaur vice president Brian Elmore said. “Jeff Boone’s auction company donated all of their time and resources and they did an outstanding job. We are humbled at the response and support, and I am so proud to work for a company that is this invested in horse racing. Indiana Grand and Centaur have been behind this event from day one and their commitment to racing is unparalleled.”
Among the former jockeys that attended the event were Walter Blum, Bill Boland, Steve Cauthen, Patti Cooksey, Jean Cruguet, Pat Day, Dave Erb, Earlie Fires, Mike Manganello, Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay Jr., John Rotz, Barbara Jo Rubin, and Jorge Velazquez. In addition, five disabled jockeys who directly benefit from PDJF were on hand and helped present the trophy to the winner of the PDJF Stakes: Michael Straight, Anne Von Rosen, Tad Leggett, Jack Fires, and Stacy Burton.
The evening was capped off by a special presentation from Helping Hands for Freedom. Patrick Shannon, co-founder of the organization and also a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, presented PDJF with a check for $10,000 to assist the cause.
Helping Hands for Freedom assists military families during injury, loss, and/or deployment.
Indianapolis – April 1, 2015 – (Bloodhorse.com ) – Nationally acclaimed horse racing analyst and commentator Peter Lurie has joined the broadcast teams at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. Lurie will make more than a dozen appearances throughout 2015 with the first appearance this weekend at Hoosier Park beginning Friday, April 3, according to a release.
“We are beyond excited to have someone of Peter’s stature joining our team in Indiana,” Jim Brown, president and chief operating officer of Centaur Gaming and general manager of Indiana Grand, said in a statement. “Peter is well respected all over the world in horse racing and having his insight into our racing product on a regular basis is phenomenal.”
Lurie has been on the sidelines covering many major races, ranging from the Saratoga Race Course meet to the Florida Derby (gr. I). He also served as a host for HRTV’s syndicated weekly show “Across the Board,” which had international viewership.
Lurie has covered both the Indiana Derby and the Dan Patch Invitational at Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park, respectively, and has also provided past support to some of the major Quarter Horse stakes in the state of Indiana.
“Being able to continue my love of horse racing at two great facilities in the Midwest is wonderful,” said Lurie. “I believe Centaur Gaming is on the cusp of something truly special and I feel very fortunate to be asked to be part of its growth. I’m looking forward to assisting them in taking their racing signals to the next level in the Thoroughbred and the Quarter Horse racing industry as well as in the harness racing world.”
In addition to special appearances throughout the racing season, Lurie will provide daily handicapping for the live production at Indiana Grand. In addition, he will provide frequent call-ins and video to both facilities as well as conduct interviews and additional television coverage while on property during the season.
“Adding Peter to our team is a great way to kick off our 2015 racing season,” said Rod Ratcliff, chairman and chief executive officer of Centaur Gaming. “Peter (Lurie) will enhance our current broadcast by expanding our on-air coverage of our racing programs, something we continue to strive for at both locations.”
Lurie will provide support to the current broadcast team of Emily Gaskin, racing personality and on-track analyst, and Steve Cross, announcer, at Hoosier Park. He will also bring his expertise to the broadcast team at Indiana Grand, which consists of Bill Downes, announcer, Rachel McLaughlin, racing personality and on-track analyst, and Nancy Ury-Holthus, paddock analyst.
In addition to his work in horse racing, Lurie will continue to lend his voice to numerous projects including animated series, commercials, and video games in the Los Angeles area. He has served as an actor for more than 30 years and brings characters to life with his voice-over work, including Leatherhead from the popular “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” television series.
Live harness racing is now underway at Hoosier Park through Saturday, Nov. 14. Racing is conducted Tuesday through Saturday with a first post of 5:15 p.m. ET. Live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing returns to Indiana Grand Tuesday, April 21. The 120-day race meet will be conducted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:05 p.m. with first post for Saturdays set at 6:05 p.m. Thursday racing will be added Sept. 17.
Shelbyville – March 11, 2015 -(Shelby News) For Darin Fishburn, there are three words he uses to describe Shelbyville resident Ray Craft – “a living legend.”
And, Fishburn, the CEO of Helping Hands for Freedom, is not talking about Craft’s heroics as a member of the Milan High School state championship basketball team that inspired the movie “Hoosiers.”
Instead, he uses those three words as a way to pay respect to Craft, who was recently honored by Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and Helping Hands for Freedom with the Recognition of Service Excellence (ROSE) Award.
Fishburn and Helping Hands for Freeom, a 501(c)3 nonprofit aimed at helping those who protect America and offer support to military children and families facing injury, loss and deployment, honored Craft Saturday during its Heroes Gala at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.
“When we look for our award winners, we look for a person or civilian that doesn’t have to help a military cause but chooses to help make mankind better,” said Fishburn, adding Craft has received two Sagamore of the Wabash Awards from two different governors.
According to Fishburn, Craft assisted Helping Hands for Freedom and raised over $2,000 for our fallen and wounded military heroes and their families.
“Ray is our 2015 Honoree, which is the highest award we give to a civilian that has a local impact on the community where he resides,” Fishburn said.
Craft said he was “surprised, but pleased” with the distinction.
“We need to be thankful every day for the sacrifices and loyalty to our country that our men and women in the military, police and fire make to keep us safe. It is great to be a part of that group, which does so much for us,” Craft said.
Craft, a security guard at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, has not missed a day of work since joining the security force in 2008.
“I have seen the plaque near the team member entrance of fellow team members who have been nominated for the ROSE Awards in the past and was very surprised to receive the call I had been nominated this year. It is always an honor to be recognized from such a great group of team members like we have here at Indiana Grand and this nomination is very special to me,” Craft said.
In addition to his tenure at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, Craft has served as assistant commissioner of the Indiana State High School Athletic Association, principal at Shelbyville High School, and past president of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Ray is an example of setting the bar high in both customer service as well as his personal life,” said Indiana Grand Racing and Casino General Manager and Centaur Gaming President and COO Jim Brown.
SHELBYVILLE – February 5, 2015 – (Horse Racing Nation) Hall of Fame Rider Ron Turcotte, best known as the jockey aboard Secretariat, winner of the Triple Crown in 1973, will serve as the Honorary Chairman of the 2015 “Jockeys and Jeans” fundraiser set for Saturday, May 30 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. The event will raise funds for the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund (PDJF), which is an independent 501(c) (3) public charity that provides financial assistance to former jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries. Turcotte heads an impressive list of jockey legends and local celebrities that will be on hand to support PDJF at “Jockeys and Jeans.”
A native of Drummond, New Brunswick, Canada, Turcotte began his riding career in Ontario in 1962. Turcotte won his first Kentucky Derby aboard Riva Ridge in 1972 and returned the following season to his legendary season aboard Secretariat by sweeping all three legs of the Triple Crown in 1973, establishing track records for both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, a race that he and “Big Red” won by 31 lengths.
“I still remember that historic stretch drive by Secretariat and Ron Turcotte in the Belmont Stakes, and to have someone of that magnitude at our facility and serving as the honorary chairman of ‘Jockeys and Jeans’ is truly an honor,” said Jim Brown, President and COO of Centaur Gaming as well as general manager at Indiana Grand. “Ron’s participation brings this event to a whole new level. He is so well respected both in and out of horse racing and we are beyond excited to have him involved in what is most important for that night; raising money for PDJF.”
Turcotte was sidelined from racing in 1978 after a racing incident left him paralyzed from the waist down. Now confined to a wheelchair, his presence at “Jockeys and Jeans” is a personal journey and one that brings a significant amount of awareness to PDJF, which has been assisting riders since its inception in 2006.
Turcotte will be joined by the only other two living Triple Crown winning jockeys Jean Cruguet and Steve Cauthen. Cruguet, a native of France, guided Seattle Slew to victory in the 1977 Triple Crown series and retired with more than 2,400 career victories. Cauthen became a national sensation as the 17-year-old rider of Affirmed, who won the Triple Crown in 1978. He became known as “The Kid” and was featured on the cover of numerous publications, including “Sports Illustrated.” His win aboard Affirmed in the 1978 Triple Crown is the last time the elusive honor has been achieved in horse racing.
The Triple Crown living legends lead an exclusive list of other Hall of Fame riders that will be in attendance for “Jockeys and Jeans,” including Laffit Pincay Jr., Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Walter Blum, Bill Boland, Randy Romero, Patricia “PJ” Cooksey, Dave Erb, Earlie Fires, Sandy Hawley, John Rotz, Mike Manganello, winner of the 1970 Kentucky Derby aboard Dust Commander, and Mary Russ Tortora, first female jockey to win a Graded Stakes race. All jockeys are coming together for one message and one reason: to support fellow riders and PDJF.
“Serving as host of ‘Jockeys and Jeans’ is another example of our commitment to racing and the progress we are achieving in horse racing, not only in the state of Indiana, but on a national level,” said Rod Ratcliff, chairman and CEO of Centaur Gaming. “It’s very important to us that both of our facilities, Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand, step up as leaders in the horse racing industry for worthwhile events such as this one, and we are very proud to be part of this event.”
Honorary guests for the event will be Michael Straight, Stacy Burton and Jack Fires, all jockeys who experienced on-track incidents that ended their racing careers. They will join Ron Turcotte in showcasing the importance of PDJF and the value of awareness and support of the organization, which currently assists 61 disabled jockeys.
“The list of former jockeys that have eagerly stepped forward to support ‘Jockeys and Jeans’ is overwhelming,” said Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing at Indiana Grand. “This is a very rare occasion to have such talent in one place at one time. The prestigious races and number of wins that these riders have accumulated during their stellar careers is unparalleled. We are very proud to partner with the ‘Jockeys and Jeans’ committee and join them on their mission to raise awareness and funding for a cause that is so important in our industry.”
In addition to racing legends, several local celebrities will be in attendance, including Bobby “Slick” Leonard, 2014 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Rupert Boneham, winner on the “Survivor” television series, Darnell Hillman, two-time ABA champion, Don Buse, two-time ABA and NBA All Star, and Mel Daniels, three-time ABA champion and Hall of Fame member. The celebrities are part of the honorary committee for “Jockeys and Jeans” who are showing support and furnishing auction items for the silent and live auctions. Other honorary committee members include Gary Player, professional golfer, Ty Murray, nine-time World Champion Bull Rider and seven time World Champion All Around Cowboy, Mari Hulman George, chairman of the board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Dan Issel, Hall of Fame professional basketball player, John Ortiz, actor, Richard Papiese, owner of Midwest Thoroughbreds, Keith Hernandez, Major League baseball player and Thoroughbred Trainer Dale Romans.
Tickets to the event will be available soon and may be reserved by calling (317) 421-0000 during business hours at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. The cost is $50, which will include food, beverage and exclusive access to the event.
More information about the second annual “Jockeys and Jeans” event may be found on Indiana Grand’s website at www.indianagrand.com or through the official “Jockeys and Jeans” Facebook page.
The “Jockeys and Jeans” committee, which consists of five former jockeys, was formed in 2014 with a mission to increase awareness and raise funding for PDJF. The inaugural event raised more than $22,000 and was held at Tampa Bay Downs. More information about the committee and the event may be found on their Website at www.jockeysandjeans.com.
NEW HAVEN – Jan. 23, 2015 – (Journal Gazette) Horse racing executive Rudy McMillan is used to naysayers.
But after a $2 million investment at the Lutheran Health Plaza in New Haven, he’s feeling pretty confident about Winner’s Circle Brewpub & OTB.
“We’ve had two (soft openings) so far, and the response has been tremendous,” said McMillan, speaking of the 700 or so people who have visited the entertainment facility this month. He is vice president and general manager.
“We want to attract a new clientele,” McMillan said. “This is more of a sports bar atmosphere, but if you want to place a bet on a horse …,” they’ll accommodate you.
The off-track betting parlor will debut its new digs, 1304 Minnich Road, on Saturday. The Indiana Horse Racing Commission approved the address and design of the 8,300-square-foot complex in December 2013.
The operation opted to leave its Fort Wayne footprint on West Washington Center Road, where it took bets since 1996. The owner, Indianapolis-based Centaur, said the Summit City site wasn’t making money.
Winner’s Circle originally planned to move to Lincoln Plaza shopping center, a New Haven strip mall, but a restrictive covenant was discovered. The matter was resolved, however, when Centaur found the Minnich Road spot to be more suited to its needs.
Winner’s Circle has a five-year lease, but McMillan feels its appeal is broad and that the business will be around for years to come, he said. Smoking is permitted on one side of the parlor, while diners may sit in a smoke-free area.
The brewpub offers full restaurant, event seating for 40 people and a total capacity of 220. Monitors and betting stations are scattered throughout the establishment, and flat-screen TVs hang from the ceiling with various sporting events blaring.
“We wanted to create an open feel,” said spokesman Grant Scharton, “but we also want to demystify horse racing for the newbies.”
Centaur has operations in Anderson, Clarksville, Merrillville, Shelbyville and Indianapolis.
With a staff of 50, Winner’s Circle will be open from 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. seven days a week.
Besides Indiana races, gamblers can bet on tracks in Florida, California, Canada, Australia and, once a year, in Dubai.
Brian Yoh is director of planning and economic development for New Haven. No one has crunched the numbers to determine the effect on the city’s economy, but Yoh is impressed.
“I visited it, and it is a well-run operation,” he said. “I don’t know how many people will be coming in from out of town. I just know that when I was there, the place was packed.”
Shelbyville, Ind. – Nov. 6, 2014- (Shelby News) – More people went to Indiana Grand Racing & Casino last year than any other attraction in the Indianapolis area, according to a recently announced ranking.
The Indianapolis Business Journal’s annual ranking of the 25 most popular Indianapolis-area attractions found that 3.5 million people went to Indiana Grand in 2013, edging out sister racino Hoosier Park. The Anderson racino drew 3 million in 2013, down from 3.5 million in 2012.
That figure helped Hoosier Park rank first in area attendance in 2012; Indiana Grand was not ranked that year. Both racinos are owned and operated by Centaur Gaming.
“Indiana Grand and Hoosier Park’s more than 2,000 team members are proud of this level of recognition which was achieved through their ongoing efforts to provide our guests a superior entertainment experience,” said Jim Brown, Centaur Gaming’s president, COO, and Indiana Grand general manager. “We attribute each property’s popularity to a focus on quality customer service and a dedication to entertain – be it in the casino, at the racetrack, in one of our many restaurants and lounges, or at concerts featuring national headline entertainment. We look forward to continuing to make our gaming and racing properties popular entertainment options locally as well as with guests from throughout the Midwest.”
The Indianapolis Business Journal compiles the annual rankings based on each location’s attendance figures. Rounding out the top 10: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, 1.2 million visitors; Indianapolis Zoo, 1 million visitors; Indiana State Fair, 978,296 visitors; Indiana Pacers, 927,211 visitors; Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame Museum, 900,000 visitors; Eagle Creek Park, 800,000 visitors; Indianapolis Indians, 637,579 visitors; and Indianapolis Colts, 527,606 visitors.
Shelbyville, Ind. –Nov. 4, 2014- (Shelby News)- As the lights went out Saturday on the 2014 thoroughbred meet at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, Jon Schuster couldn’t help but let out a little bit of a grin.
“It was a great meet, overall,” said the Indiana Grand Vice President and General Manager of Racing.
The meet was overshadowed by the death of 17-year-old jockey Juan Saez in a horrible racing accident last month.
“We had one horrible incident and everything else exceeded expectations. There were no major surprises, which is great considering the large number of changes and adjustments we made throughout the meet,” he said.
Prior to the start of the meet, Centaur Gaming poured millions of dollars into upgrades and renovations at the track, including more barns and a new tote board.
“Those upgrades were immensely beneficial,” said Schuster. “We had more, better and even much safer participation in all facets of the business. I can’t think of any change that disappointed in its results. It was a good year, and we have everything headed in the right direction to our upward trend.”
All those upgrades, combined with quality horses and talented jockeys brought forth the “best meet” Indiana Grand Racing and Casino has seen in its history.
“Top to bottom, there is no doubt this was our best meet yet, by far,” he said. “And just as exciting is how well we’re poised to build from it and to continue our rising trajectory.
“We’re nowhere near finished enhancing this racing program or our property. It’s so wonderful to be with a company that is so committed to the racing agribusiness and to each of its stakeholders and participants. It’s unbelievable the vision, the resources and the level of caring that are put into each and every decision to enhance the Indiana racing industry.”
The upgrades helped attact top horses and top jockeys including Calvin Borel and Rosie Napravnik to Shelbyville.
“Traditionally, great jockeys follow great horses and great trainers. The fact that so many world class riders came to Indiana Grand again this year is just another indication of how well our enhancements are being received,” said Schuster. “And these riders didn’t just come here, they raved about the place. I’m confident that all of them, plus some others, will be back to Shelbyville next year and in years to come.”
In 13 years, Schuster has waited patiently for a year like this one on the track.
“I knew it could be really good. What I did not anticipate was it taking such a monumental leap forward in such a short time span,” he said. “And now, the progress I’ve seen this year alone assures me that we are nowhere near the top of this ride.”
He continued by saying Indiana Grand Racing and Casino is a “special place.”
“It’s going to get better and it’s happening really quick. And the same amazing rise is happening at Hoosier Park. I can’t think of any other state’s or company’s racing program in the country ever approaching this kid of meteoric rise,” said Schuster. “I work for a great company with a great team and a great vision. I was born and raised here in central Indiana, and it’s the greatest feeling to be part of a team driving this kind of industry and success right here at home. I’m a lucky guy.”
With the 2014 meet in the rear-view mirror, Schuster turns his attention to the 2015 meet.
Indiana Grand Racing and Casino submitted an opening day of April 21, however, that still needs to be approved by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.
“I can’t wait until next year. Honestly, this year was such a good one that the only thing about it ending is that it gives us the chance to start planning and shaping next year’s program. Without a doubt, 2015 will be even better than this year, and while that’s a tough order to fill, I know next year will be better than this year. We’ve got a killer team, and everybody’s focused on the mission,” said Schuster.
ANDERSON, Ind.- Oct. 30, 2014-(Harness Link)- Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, the exclusive home of Indiana harness racing, is proud to announce it will host the coveted Breeders Crown events in the fall of 2017 for the first time in its 21-year racing history, pending approval by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and Indiana Standardbred Association.
The seven-eighths mile track, which opened in 1994, was awarded all 12 year-end championship races, worth a combined $5 million, by the Hambletonian Society which oversees the prestigious Breeders Crown series. The exact dates are yet to be determined but are historically showcased in late October or November.
“Hoosier Park is a world class racetrack and has been a solid supporter of Grand Circuit and stakes racing since they opened,” said Tom Charters, president of the Hambletonian Society which owns and services the races. “We are delighted to add a new track to the Breeders Crown roster, especially one as celebrated, and as accommodating to fans, owners, and horsepeople as Hoosier Park.”
Much like the Super Bowl, the season-culminating Breeders Crown series does not have a fixed venue. The Breeders Crown races will be hosted at The Meadowlands Racetrack in 2014 and 2016 and at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada in 2015 before heading to Hoosier Park in 2017.
“Hoosier Park’s team members are honored to have earned this level of recognition,” said Rod Ratcliff, Centaur Gaming chairman and chief executive officer. “We can’t thank the dedicated racing fans, team members, as well as the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, Indiana Legislature, Indiana Standardbred Association, and all of our partners in the racing industry enough for their continued work to elevate Indiana horse racing on a national level.”
Owned by Indianapolis-based Centaur Gaming, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino underwent a major expansion to its racing facility when casino gaming at Indiana’s racetracks was legislatively authorized in 2007. Centaur, founded in 1993, is a company built on the precept of furthering the entertainment and economic development benefits of Indiana gaming and horse racing.
“This is a major step forward for Indiana horse racing and something Hoosier Park and our partners in the industry have been working towards for years,” said Jim Brown, Centaur Gaming president and chief operating officer. “Since 2008, Hoosier Park has continued to make significant investments into improving our racing product – both on-track and via our simulcast signal, and this announcement serves as recognition of these efforts. The Hoosier Park team will be ready to welcome racing fans from across the country in 2017.”
The state-bred program has improved dramatically in 20 years, and the $3 million stakes schedule, centered annually around the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational, attracts the best trotters and pacers in North America throughout the season.
The 30-year-old Breeders Crown series has typically crowned champions in every division for trotters and pacers and been the deciding factor in Horse of the Year honors. Originally conceived and executed as a traveling series, the “Crown” has traveled to racetracks across North America and raced as either single night or multiple night events.
ANDERSON, Ind. – August 2, 2014 – (Herald Bulletin) – Tucked away inside the Hoosier Park & Casino is a new brewhouse, complete with rustic flooring, industrial lighting and a tasting area.
The Dan Patch Brewhouse, which opened Friday, is named after Indiana’s Dan Patch standardbred race horse and features craft beers and wines from across the state.
“We have completely renovated an area, so that you feel like you are in a brewhouse,” said Jahnae Erpenbach, Hoosier Park & Casino vice president and general manager of gaming.
The experience includes specially trained brewtenders who can explain the ingredients and taste preferences of the 10 beers on draft and 11 bottled beers featured each week.
“We are going to get that very first taste of the new beers straight from the brewery,” she said.
Breweries featured include Tow Yard Brewing, Bier Brewery, Fountain Square Brewing, Dare Devil Brewing, Sun King Brewery, Flat 12 Bierworks, Upland Brewing Co., Three Floyds Brewing Co., Quaff On! and Triton Brewing Co.
Indiana wines from Satek, Simmons, Turtle Run, Chateau de Pique and Chateau Thomas are also available.
“There will probably be some not included because there are a lot of breweries in Indiana, but hopefully at one given point or another we work with all of them,” Erpenbach said.
The 1,000-square-foot brewhouse can seat 44 people, and Erpenbach said four new jobs were created with its opening. Hours of operation are Thursday through Sundays, but those are subject to change.
“If this is as popular as we hope and think, we will have it open as long as customers want it,” Erpenbach said.
Supply and demand
She said the idea behind creating the brewhouse came from the growing popularity of craft beers and new breweries in the state.
“We have always been committed to buying locally, and we are dedicating this outlet to them and our customers,” Erpenbach said. “Craft beers are extremely popular in the area, and we want to honor that here at Hoosier Park.”
According to a 2013 State of the Craft Beer Industry report by Demeter Group, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of the beer industry dropped from 2007 to 2012, but craft beers have grown 10 percent annually.
Experts say the craft beer boom owes to the appeal craft beers have for both beer drinkers and those who prefer other alcohol beverages. At its current rate, craft beer is projected to represent almost 15 percent of the beer industry by 2020.
In 2012, the Brewers Almanac listed 68 active brewer permits in Indiana, ranking it 12th nationwide.
A new taste
The brewhouse offers free tastings in addition to beer flights that consist of four different beer varieties in six-ounce glasses. Snacks, including potato chips and popcorn from Indiana, are also available.
“There is a craft beer out there for literally every person,” said David Doyle, a member of the Hoosier Park & Casino food and beverage team. “Some people don’t like beer, but we have found a product they would like and enjoy.”
Amy Whitler, the director of the food and beverage team, said she did not like the taste of beer, but after 25 beer tastings she found a favorite.
“I’m the one they are talking about,” she said with a laugh. “The first beer I tasted at Bier Brewery is one of my favorites.”
Ryan Connor, brewer and sales manager for Bier Brewery in Indianapolis, said he appreciates the opportunity to expand into the Anderson area through the Dan Patch Brewhouse.
“I think it’s quite amazing,” he said. “This is a good step into introducing people to a craft beer they might not have been introduced to before.”
The award-winning, family-owned and operated brewery makes more than 80 different beers.
“We are definitely a lot smaller that other breweries, and we do everything ourselves from the brewers to putting it in the keg,” Conner said.
He said Indiana’s craft beer improves each year, which is good for both the state and the industry.
“I challenge everyone to make good beer, so that one day, Indiana will be known for its beer like Colorado and California,” Conner said.
Shelbyville, Ind. – Aug. 8, 2014 – (Shelby News) – The Indiana Grand Racing and Casino opened an on-site health clinic for its associates on Aug. 1.
The clinic is run by OnSiteSolutions, a Major Health Partner, and features all the amenities a primary care physician’s office features.
“Their on-site clinic is a full, primary care clinic model, meaning that anything they can get done at the traditional, primary care physician’s office, they can now get done at the clinic,” said Ryan Claxton, vice president of business development and strategy at Major Hospital//Major Health Partners. “They pay us a flat hourly fee to operate their clinic. In exchange, we provide those health care services. We’re able to do that at a per unit cost lower than what they’re paying outside if they didn’t have a clinic.”
Planning for the new clinic began approximately six months ago and the implementation took three months.
“There’s a lot of planning that’s involved. It takes about 90 days to get a clinic up and operational. We have to buy all the supplies, all the equipment, both clinical and clerical supplies, and we essentially stock it similar to what we would do in a normal doctor’s office,” Claxton said. “Then there’s an educational process for the associates and their dependents to make sure they know what it is, what’s available, answer any questions and get them comfortable with the services that we provide and the providers that we’ll use to provide those services. Then we just open.”
Employees benefit in a number of ways, with the biggest being access to free health care.
“It benefits the employees because they get free access to free health care. We use only board-certified members in our clinics, so they’re getting the best of the best with absolutely zero charge,” Claxton said. “They don’t pay a co-pay, they don’t pay any co-insurance and they can get over 250 drug items, free of charge, through the clinic.”
According to Deannette Pryor, Indiana Grand’s human resources director, several team members have said they appreciate the clinic’s availability, its on-site location and that they can visit the clinic whether they feel sick or feel well and simply want a wellness check or their prescriptions checked on.
“I think the talk is that they greatly appreciate it. This is a great benefit added to the benefit plan. Most employers do offer some sort of benefit package. That this is now included in that benefit package, they feel like it’s good retention for them to stay on because there is benefits and savings for them,” Pryor said.
While the employees most obviously benefit, the casino also profits from the on-site health clinic.
“We’re able to spend more time with each employee or their dependent members that are eligible who are able to use the clinic, thereby making them healthier, thereby increasing productivity at work, presenteeism, reducing absenteeism, helping recruit and retain workers there,” Claxton said.
Pryor echoed Claxton’s statement.
“I think at the end of the day, it’s going to increase presenteeism because, a lot of times when you’re sick, you don’t go to the doctor immediately and you may end up missing or calling out, so I think overall (the benefit is) increased presenteeism and decreased absenteeism…and the fact that, at the end of the day, it will benefit us in the long run with our insurance claims,” Pryor said.
Additionally, Major Hospital also benefits from the on-site clinic.
“For the hospital, it helps us focus on a controlled group. It’s all Indiana Grand’s associates and their dependents, so we can have a better impact on the overall group there and improve our county health score ratings,” Claxton said. “It also helps us capture market share because folks that maybe don’t live in the area; maybe they live in Connersville and they drive to work in Shelbyville. Now they’ll use the clinic Major Hospital services because it’s free health care for them.”
Major Hospital began opening on-site health clinics in 2008. Now in its sixth year, they have opened 12 clinics at six separate locations. That’s two clinics a year since they started.
“We knew we needed to revise solutions for our employers and their health care needs,” Claxton said. “We knew that it’s not sustainable for the double-digit annual increases that employers are experiencing and we wanted to be in a position to provide solutions for those employers and this allows that.”
During its first week open, the health clinic had an 88 percent utilization rate. Since then, it has been utilized between 60 and 70 percent.
“I think it’s been one of the highest clinic openings as far as utilization goes for Major Hospital,” Pryor said.
Currently, the health clinic is open three days a week for four hours a day.
“We’re only open three days a week, four hours each time, so 12 hours,” Pryor said. “A lot of those days, we’ve went over those hours because we’ve had such a high utilization from the team members.”
Because of the high utilization rate and the possibility of it increasing, Pryor foresees the clinic’s hours expanding in the future.
“In the long term, we hope to offer more hours,” Pryor said. “We don’t want people sick and not be able to make it.”
Despite the drop from the clinics first week, Pryor does not believe the utilization numbers will decrease.
“They’ll stay consistent. We employ over 1,000 team members and then those that have dependents on our health plan can also be seen. I think it’s going to stay consistent,” Pryor said. “We’ve done a lot of education with fliers and emails and voice blasts…We’ll do that again in the flu season when flu shots are available. I think it’s going to stay highly utilized.”
For more information about Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, visit http://indianagrand.com.
“This is a positive thing for Indiana Grand. I think it clearly shows their investment in their workforce, that they don’t mind spending short-term dollars for long-term savings,” Claxton said.
Pryor agreed and said, “You just don’t see (an employer appreciating their team members) in today’s market and in today’s corporate world like this. That really shows something about the character and the fundamentals and the value of the company.”
Shelbyville, Ind. – July 15, 2014 – Many organizations are significant to the sport of horse racing, but none is more deserving of support than the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). As a result, a small group of dedicated people came together earlier this year to form “Jockeys and Jeans,” a benefit to raise funding for the worthwhile cause. Fresh on the heels of the success of the 2014 event, “Jockeys and Jeans” will continue as an annual occurrence and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino will provide the venue for the 2015 event.
“Jockeys and Jeans” began as a reunion for jockeys across the United States. With a little input from key committee members, the idea grew into a way to give back to the industry and became an event at Tampa Bay Downs this past March. As a result of the hard work and dedication to the cause, more than $21,000 was raised for the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund. With the addition of Indiana Grand Racing & Casino as the host sponsor next year, the goal is to more than double the exposure and funding raised from this event.
The 2015 benefit will span two days at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, which has already made a monetary and resource commitment to ensure the success of the event. Fresh on the heels of the accreditation by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, Indiana Grand has stepped up as both the host site and main sponsor for “Jockeys and Jeans” through the support of parent company Centaur.
“We are committed to the betterment of racing and the opportunity to give back to the athletes who risk life and limb every day for the sport of horse racing,” said Rod Ratcliff, chairman and CEO of Centaur, “We are continuously working to create a safer racing environment. The support of the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund through the ‘Jockeys and Jeans’ event is one additional step on that path. We want to ensure the longevity and continuation of this event, so we welcome the chance to host the 2015 benefit at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.”
Centaur has shown its support of the horse racing industry in numerous ways since acquiring Indiana Grand last year. Recent renovations include installation of a new main track, four new barns housing more than 300 stalls (bringing total backstretch capacity to more than 1,000 horses) and a new, state-of-the-art LED video board in the infield. Centaur is currently working on additional improvements at Indiana Grand that directly impact the participants in the sport, including new and renovated backstretch dormitories, and substantial clubhouse and grandstand improvements.
Initial planning has already started for the “Jockeys and Jeans” event at Indiana Grand next year. Key guests and committee members will take part in a special reception Friday, May 29 followed by the “Jockeys and Jeans” gala set for Saturday, May 30. The event will feature numerous riders from all across North America and will include both a live and a silent auction on all types of premium items. Tickets to the gala will be available later this year. Discounted tickets will be provided to all retired jockeys wishing to attend the event.
In addition, those who cannot attend will be able to support the cause through donations with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund. Members of the Jockeys and Jeans committee include Mike Manganello, Eddie Donnally, Barry Pearl, Barbara Jo Rubin, Darrell Brown and the newest honorary committee member Michael Straight.
More information on the second annual “Jockeys and Jeans” may be found on the organization’s Facebook page at “Jockeys and Jeans” or through their Website at jockeysandjeans.com.
SHELBYVILLE, IND. – June 30, 2014 – (Shelby News) With a jazz band performing and a beautiful Sunday afternoon serving as a backdrop, the Shelby County Fair not only embraced its past but also the future during a grandstand ceremony at the Shelby County Fairgrounds.
The event kicked off fair week in Shelby County, as the 166th Shelby County Fair officially opens Monday and the midway and rides are scheduled to open at 5 p.m. Monday.
The new, brick and steel facility replaces the 133-year-old former facility, which burned to the ground at 1 a.m. on May 19, 2012. The person(s) responsible for the arson remain at large despite an ongoing investigation by the Shelbyville Fire Department and other agencies.
“I think it’s absolutely beautiful, and it is nicer than I thought. This truly has been a complete community effort,” said fair board association president Mike Freeman as he continued to look up at the new structure and down at the bricks that people had purchased with their name on them leading into the facility.
Indiana State Senator Jean Leising was on hand and said she was “impressed” with the new facility.
“This is a big day for Shelby County, and the new grandstand looks really nice,” she said.
The new facility was possible due to a $250,000 donation from Centaur Gaming, owners of Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, and a partnership between the City of Shelbyville and Shelby County officials. In addition, Centaur is donating another $250,000 in matching funds.
At a groundbreaking ceremony earlier this year, Centaur president and COO Jim Brown said his company wanted to be involved.
“When we heard about this project, and the history and the heritage and the future of Shelby County Fairgrounds, county fair racing and county fair harness racing in Indiana, we wanted to be a part of it,” Brown said at the groundbreaking.
On Sunday, Freeman said the new facility was the end result of a “vision.”
“A few years ago, our building burnt down, and there was a vision. The first part of that vision was the clean-up and Dave Rush and Jeff Pruitt did a good job with that. The next vision was to get a grandstand. There were people who thought it was good and people who didn’t. I was told by some county officials to tell people to slow down, we deserved better. Bob Carmony, Tom DeBaun and other guys had a bigger vision. Some said it wouldn’t get done, and it wouldn’t get done this year. We want you to be a part of the vision,” Freeman said.
Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun said the new facility is a “fantastic one” and “one that he will be proud to bring his family to.”
“Our concern was what will be the legacy left behind. We wanted something better, and we got it,” DeBaun said.
Shelby County Commissioners president Kevin Nigh echoed those sentiments.
Nigh said although many people have “fond memories of the old grandstand, which stood here for over 130 years, today begins a new chapter of making memories within this new landmark in Shelby County.”
Nigh said he and others remembered the history recently as he sat and watched the construction taking place.
“Our ancestors would certainly be proud of this,” Nigh said.
NEW YORK CITY (Wednesday, June 25, 2014) – Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville, Ind., a track on the rise following multiple purse increases and millions in renovations to their surfaces and facility, has earned accreditation from the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today. The 12-year-old racetrack was known as Indiana Downs prior to its current season, which opened May 6 and continues through Nov. 1.
Indiana Grand is owned and operated by Centaur Gaming, a new member of the NTRA. Centaur also owns nearby Hoosier Park, which has conducted Standardbred racing only since last year. The company also operates off-track betting locations throughout Indiana.
Centaur’s recent renovations include installation of a new main track, four new barns housing more than 300 stalls (bringing total backstretch capacity to more than 1,000 horses) and a new, state-of-the-art LED video board in the infield.
“We are very proud to welcome Centaur Gaming as a member of the NTRA, especially in light of their exemplary initial review from our Safety and Integrity Alliance,” said Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the NTRA. “Indiana Grand’s significant investment in their racing product and customer experience continues to win fans across the industry. Between the leadership of the tracks and the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, a recent adopter of the national uniform medication rules, racing’s future appears bright in The Hoosier State.”
Tens of millions of dollars worth of additional improvements at Indiana Grand are in the planning stages, including new and renovated backstretch dormitories, as well as more substantial clubhouse and grandstand improvements.
Indiana Grand’s last full Thoroughbred meet offered purses totaling $26.93 million for average daily purses of $236,248.
This season’s marquee Oct. 4 program will feature nine stakes, cumulatively worth $1.34 million, highlighted by the $500,000 Indiana Derby (GII) and the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (GII).
Indiana Grand’s accreditation followed a complete review of all racing operations at the facility. All accreditations carry an effective period of two years.
During the Alliance inspection of Indiana Grand, best practices were identified in most primary areas of focus for the Alliance.
In the area of injury reporting and prevention, best practices identified included the reporting of injuries and fatalities, pre- and post-race veterinary inspections and post-mortem veterinary examinations.
In areas intended to create a safer racing environment, best practices cited at Indiana Grand included regulation and enforcement for riding crops and safety vests; use of padded starting gates; mandatory presence of an equine ambulance during racing; substance abuse and addiction treatment; appropriate contributions to industry safety research; data collection and storage to enhance racing surface maintenance; required safety training for all track employees that come in contact with horses; continuing education for trainers and stewards; adoption of the Uniform National Trainers Test (implemented by Indiana Horse Racing Commission); plans and protocols for infectious disease management; fire safety planning and procedures; and appropriate oversight of the Official Veterinarian.
Regarding the health and safety of jockeys, best practices recognized included protocols for post parade or starting gate scratches; appropriate standards for licensing jockeys; minimum $1 million accident medical expense coverage for all jockeys; posting of jockey insurance coverage in the jockeys’ quarters; and participation in the Jockeys’ Guild’s Jockey Injury Database for collection of data associated with rider injuries.
In the area of equine drug testing and penalties, best practices identified included implementation of Association of Racing Commissioners International model rules, based on Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) recommendations; alkalinizing agent regulation; exogenous anabolic steroids regulation; extracorpeal shock wave therapy regulation; out-of-competition blood doping and gene doping testing on- and off-track; RMTC accreditation of the track’s official testing laboratory, HFL Sports Science in Lexington, Ky.; and communication protocols for new and proposed changes to medication and testing regulations and protocols.
Indiana Grand also was commended for best practices in protocols relating to security across several areas, including: hiring, pre-employment drug testing, training, staffing, communications, surveillance, access to restricted areas, shipping procedures and record keeping, test barn protocol and licensing. Regarding wagering security, best practices were recognized for wagering incident prevention.
“I am very pleased that Indiana Grand has become the newest track to be accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance,” said Jon Schuster, Indiana Grand vice president and general manager of racing. “We have worked diligently, and invested a lot of resources, to ensure our race course is the safest, our facilities are the best kept, and our procedures are the best practices within the industry.
“It is truly a pleasure to work for an organization that is investing so much in our industry, that is forward looking, and that has put in place a team, from top to bottom, that cares about the horses, all the human participants, and every important detail about racing both on a state and national level.”
Added Schuster: “I offer my sincerest thanks and gratitude to the entire Indiana Grand team, our partners – the horsemen – and to the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance for their tireless effort to make racing as good and safe as it can possibly be. This is a big milestone for us, and it truly underscores the value of partnership.”
The accreditation of Indiana Grand was the culmination of a lengthy process that began with the track’s completion of a 48-page written application and continued as Centaur Gaming hosted several meetings with Alliance officials. An on-site review included inspections of all facets of the racing facility. Interviews were also conducted with track executives, racetrack personnel, jockeys, owners, trainers, stewards and fans. The inspection team was comprised of Ron Jensen, DVM, former equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board; Mike Kilpack, security and integrity consultant and past chairman of the Organization of Racetrack Investigators (ORI); Richard Lewis, former trainer and Northern California racing executive; and Mike Ziegler, executive director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.
Indiana Grand is one of 23 racing facilities currently fully accredited by the Alliance. Others are Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, Calder Casino and Race Course, Canterbury Park, Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Fairplex Park, Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Laurel Park, Monmouth Park, Pimlico Race Course, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Race Course, Suffolk Downs, Sunland Park, Turfway Park and Woodbine.
The Alliance, formed in October 2008 with the goal of establishing national uniform standards in the areas of safety and integrity, includes 55 racetracks in North America and every major national horsemen’s organization. Alliance certification standards cover six broad areas: injury reporting and prevention; creating a safer racing environment; aftercare and transition of retired racehorses; uniform medication, testing and penalties; safety research; and wagering security. Within those six categories, specific standards focus on areas including:
- Systematic reporting of equine injuries
- Aftercare of racehorses
- Pre- and post-race veterinary examinations
- Post-mortem examinations
- Health and safety of jockeys
- Riding crops and their use
- Horse shoes and hoof care
- Safety research
- Safety equipment for jockeys and horse handlers
- Exogenous Anabolic Steroids
- Alkalinizing agents (TCO2)
- On-track emergency medical care for humans and equines
- Out-of-competition testing
- Freezing and retrospective testing of post-race samples
- Continuing education
- Security assessment and training
- Totalizator technology and “stop wagering” protocols
- Wagering incident investigation
The NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance is a standing organization whose purpose is to establish standards and practices to promote safety and integrity in horseracing and to secure their implementation. Corporate partners of the Alliance include Lockton and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at www.NTRAalliance.com.
As a seven-eighths-of-a-mile track, horses racing at Hoosier only have to go around two turns, which is clearly the most desirable configuration for wagering. At 1,255 feet, the stretch is one of the longest in the sport. This type of layout creates parity in post positions and racing styles. When you have a fair and balanced track, which isn’t speed or post position biased, it makes it tough for favorites to dominate. At Hoosier this meet, favorites are winning at 35%, which is ideal.
As you would expect, this type of racing is attractive to bettors. In 2013, total handle at Hoosier was up 25% year-over-year. But even after a banner year, Hoosier did not rest on its laurels.
“We’re fortunate because we have two CEO’s—Roderick Ratcliff and Jim Brown—that love racing. They’ve put a lot of money into the racing here. It’s not just about the casino. This year, during the off season, Hoosier Park spent $300,000 to resurface the track,” said Rick Moore, V.P. and General Manager of racing
With slot machines at Ohio harness tracks (Miami Valley and Northfield), some tracks, like Balmoral and Cal Expo, have had to race with fewer horses. But Hoosier has a good horse population.
“When the meet started this year, we did have some short fields,” said Moore. “After the tough winter, some of the local horses weren’t ready and we were more reliant on shippers. But now we’re back to normal, putting on 14 races a card and many with 9-horse fields.”
In 2014, Hoosier is scheduled to race 160 days (Tuesday to Saturday). The meet began on March 28 and ends on November 15. The premier stakes race on the docket is the Dan Patch Invitational Pace for older horses, which will be raced on August 8. Moore said that this year they added $50,000 to the purse, boosting the pot to its highest total ever, $250.000.
Hoosier is trying a new promotion for the drivers and fans in 2014—the Champion Driver Series. The event will be on two nights, July 19 and September 27. The way the contest is structured is interesting. The top 10 drivers at the track will compete in five races each night. In the first race, the top ranked driver at the track will pick his horse first, the 2nd-ranked driver will pick second, etc. In the second race, the driver ranked 10th will pick 1st, the 9th-ranked driver will pick 2nd, and it will continue in that order. Then it flip-flops for races 3, 4, and 5.
The top 8 finishers from the first round get to compete in the final on September 27. There’s $5,000 worth of prize money, with $3,000 going to the winner. But, the winner of the contest also gets to drive a beautiful 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray on a one-year lease.
With a wide wagering menu that includes multiple 50 cent minimum wagers, and a great informational tool in Trakus (www.hoosierpark.com/trakus.html), which aids handicappers by providing charting data and multiple animated video views of the races, Hoosier is an attractive place to wager.
I started to follow and bet Hoosier last year, and this year, I’ve included Hoosier track bias info and horses to watch on my Sharp Horses and Track Trends list.
Handicapping Hoosier is similar to handicapping the Meadowlands. Class and a horse’s ability to finish are important handicapping factors. With the longer straightaways, the inside speed horses can’t steal races the way they do on many of the three- and four-turn tracks.
That being said, don’t over-think the handicapping process. The usual factors still apply. Final time and good recent form are strong win indicators at Hoosier. But because of the long stretch, horses that have the ability to pace quick final quarters must be considered, especially if the horse fits well on class.
Class must always be considered when handicapping. But on a track like Hoosier, which does not have a speed bias, class is even more important. I like to look over a horse’s past performances to see if the horse has won at today’s class level, or at a higher level.
Often you’ll see that a horse won against classier horses last year, but has been dropping and off form this year. In that type of situation, you have to watch the horse’s current form carefully to see if it does something in the race that shows improvement.
One thing I like about Hoosier, if a horse looks to be clearly the fastest horse on paper, it usually wins, and the odds are not as low as they are at some tracks. Even though the favorites win at a lower percentage than the industry average, I wouldn’t recommend betting against favorites that look clearly best on paper, especially horses that appear to have a clear advantage on recent final times. Bet against the favorites that don’t have the best recent final times.
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. – March 6, 2014 – Indiana Grand Casino and Indiana Downs announced today that the once separate gaming and racing facilities will operate as one under the new Indiana Grand Racing & Casino name, effective immediately. The name change is part of a rebranding initiative to combine the racetrack and casino into one property that aligns with parent company Centaur Gaming’s goal of providing guests a fully integrated and entertaining racing and gaming experience.
The new name will be phased-in across all aspects of the business over the coming weeks.The Indiana Grand Racing & Casino name and logo will replace all current Indiana Downs mentions and signage. Additionally, a complete redesign of the property’s simulcast racing television screen artwork will change what racing fans view throughout the United States and internationally. The old Indiana Downs simulcast screen, which featured shades of red and white, has been updated to the new Indiana Grand Racing & Casino design displaying a black and gold color palette and new graphics technology.
Although the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino name refers to the property as a whole, the race course itself will be renamed to Indiana Grand Race Course in racing publications and specific mentions of Indiana Grand’s dirt and turf courses.
Indiana Grand Racing & Casino’s 2014 meet will follow a split day and night racing schedule, with live racing starting at 2:05 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and continuing at 5:05 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through July 12. Beginning Tuesday, July 15, live racing will follow a five day racing schedule with live racing starting Tuesdays through Thursdays at 2:05 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays starting at 5:05 p.m.
The racetrack casino will celebrate the start of live racing with a festival-themed ‘Grand Opening’ weekend beginning Friday, May 9 that will include family-friendly activities, live music, multiple specialty dining outlets, and a free community fireworks presentation.
Both Indiana Grand Racing & Casino and its sister-property Hoosier Park Racing & Casino saw significant all-sources handle gains during the 2013 season. Indiana Grand realized a 5.7% increase with Hoosier Park realizing a 25.5% increase. The 2014 season will continue to build on last year’s successful race meets with weekend-long festivals built around Hoosier Park’s Dan Patch and Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby signature races.
The venue gets a full-fledged unveiling Saturday night with a sold-out concert by musician Bret Michaels of Poison and “Celebrity Apprentice” fame.
Hoosier Park put nine months and $4 million into its Finish Line project that includes the new concert setting, a renovation of the first level of the grandstand and clubhouse, e-terminals for race wagering and a family-friendly first-level “fun zone.”
But it is the indoor concert remodeling that will set a new atmosphere for music fans, Hoosier Park representatives said.
As many patrons will recall, Hoosier Park previously held indoor concerts on the south end of the racing side of the facility. Crews would convert the Homestretch Steakhouse into concert seating for 600 ticketholders.
The remodeled all-indoor venue will seat 1,200 and offers seating that runs from the Homestretch restaurant across most of the racing grandstand.
Many of the new amenities are based on patrons’ comments.
“Over the past five years, Hoosier Park guests have been giving us suggestions for a new indoor venue,” Jahnae Erpenbach, vice president and general manager of gaming at Hoosier Park, said during a tour of the facility. “All the lessons we learned when we first turned this into a showroom were valuable.”
Among the new components:
— Fourteen “suites” have been added, each accommodating four to six people with a couch, two cushioned chairs and two ottomans. The suites are just below the Pegasus bar.
— A curtain that blocks passers-by on the track side so the Pegasus bar can be part of the concert setting.
— Seats are more central to the stage and range from the suites to a dining-and-concert setting to general admission.
— The racing entrance now has the Club Centaur and programs desk more accessible. Shelby’s Gifts has also nearly doubled in size.
— Due to changes in Indiana’s smoking law, the Terrace, showroom and grandstand seating are no longer available to patrons under the age of 18; there are designated family entrances.
— Wagering carrels have been updated on the north end of the grandstand and equipped with touch-screen e-terminals.
— The Prime Harvest Buffet has been renovated with a garden theme.
By doubling the seating capacity, Hoosier Park should draw in larger acts, Erpenbach noted. Due to the previous size of the venue, musicians often performed two shows to make it worth their while. Now, performers who prefer doing one show may be lured to the site, she said.
However, some supporting columns still remain. Those blocking views of the stage are to be designated to ticket buyers when they buy online or at Shelby’s Gifts.
So far, the new stage has been used three times, including a trial run concert by The Wright Brothers, a fashion show and a chamber breakfast.
More plans are also in the works, Erpenbach said.
— A bar that features Indiana beers and wines.
— Since Hoosier Park no longer offers thoroughbred racing, the paddock will be converted into offices and a top floor of the grandstand will be used for special events.
— Renovations to the back side of the track including a lounge and recreation area for drivers and additional amenities for groomers and trainers.
Attendance, Handle Gains Highlight Indiana Downs Meet
SHELBYVILLE, Ind.; – Oct. 21, 2013– Attendance and wagering at Indiana Downs produced gains during the track’s first fully Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet. The 120-day race meet concluded on Saturday, Oct. 19 and showed promising increases over the prior year. Track management credits these gains to a combination of the one breed/one track format, new marketing efforts, the support of horsemen in filling the entry box, and higher quality of horses.
The 12th season of Indiana Downs racing saw an 8.1 percent increase in live on-track racing handle and a 5.6 percent increase in export handle. Current and new racing fans visited the racetrack in larger numbers resulting in an on-track attendance increase of approximately 8 percent.
Recently acquired by Indianapolis-based Centaur Gaming, a renewed focus on providing an enhanced racing product and a multi-faceted entertainment experience was put in place from the first day of racing. “Our guests have taken notice of Centaur’s focus on providing quality horse racing entertainment,” said Indiana Grand Racing & Casino vice president and general manager of racing, Jon Schuster. “From the newly constructed barns for our horsemen to providing an entertaining on-track experience for our guests, we’ve made significant improvements that we look forward to building upon next year.”
“The team here worked hard to not only improve the quality of horses racing on our track but to also ensure their continued safety. Hundreds of man-hours went into evaluating the track’s condition and making improvements where needed,” said Kevin Greely, Indiana Grand Racing & Casino’s director of racing and racing secretary.
Leadership of the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse breed organizations are happy with the changes and looking forward to growing with Centaur Gaming in their new partnership.
The Horsemen’s Benevolence & Protective Association (HBPA) president, Joe Davis, commented, “The HBPA is appreciative of Centaur Gaming and their continued efforts to provide the highest quality horse racing and amenities for horsemen, new guests, and loyal fans. This year’s meet has been one of the more successful in years.”
“The meet this year proved the new one breed/one track format successful and set a foundation for more opportunity and growth of the Indiana horse racing industry,” said Tom Mosley, the legislative and regulatory liaison for the Quarter Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI).
Enhanced family-friendly promotions and new events such as a Fourth of July celebration at the racetrack were offered to bolster the fan experience throughout the meet. The 2013 meet also marked the first running of the Indiana Derby at Indiana Downs. Previously run at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson, the 19th installment of $500,000 Grade II Thoroughbred race drew national attention with the appearance of some of the best horses and biggest named owners and trainers in the industry.
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. – Sept. 15, 2013 – Bloodhorse – 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.
ANDERSON, Ind.—August 20, 2013— In the 20th season of live Standardbred racing, Hoosier Park continues to produce encouraging gains on all fronts. With the continuing success of the first-ever, all harness racing meet, Hoosier Park has announced purses will reflect a 20 percent increase, effective Friday, August 23. This 20 percent increase is the second purse increase implemented this season and will be felt most noticeably throughout the upper and middle classes on the condition sheet.
With a renewed focus on fresh marketing efforts, facility enhancements, specialty wagers, and an increase in overall quality of racing, through the first 100 days of the meet at Hoosier Park, all-sources wagering has shown an increase of 25% over the previous years’ figures.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the first 100 days of our live racing meet,” Hoosier Park’s vice president and general manager of racing Rick Moore noted. “We want to thank all our partners, most notably the horsemen and racing fans throughout the country that have contributed to our successes to date.”
Earlier in the year, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission approved a new racing format described as one breed, one track. Hoosier Park was named Indiana’s sole harness racing track while Indiana Grand Casino and Downs plays host to all the thoroughbred action. Originally designed as an all Standardbred track, this change to all Standardbred racing has allowed Hoosier Park to devote all of its energies in making the Anderson, Indiana track a world-class Standardbred racing operation.
“The horsemen have done an outstanding job of providing us with a great racing product,” Moore continued. “The continuing improvement of the quality of horses racing at Hoosier Park combined with full, competitive fields has offered remarkable value to horseplayers and the bettors have shown up in full force with the domino result of handle increases and purse increases. All of these factors make it possible for us to proudly announce this purse increase.”
The racing action continues to heat up on the track as the 2013 crop of state-breds recently opened their Indiana Gold Sire Stakes series in impressive fashion. Hoosier Park will play host to the second of three, million dollar nights this season on Wednesday, September 11 with the $200,000 Indiana Sire Stakes finals for two and three-year-olds.
Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino kicked off on April 2 and will continue through November 9. Following a Tuesday-Saturday schedule, the 160-day, all harness racing meet will have a daily post time of 5:30 p.m.
July 27, 2013
For Indiana Downs General Manager of Racing Jon Schuster, the 11th racing season has been full of change.
One change Schuster and Shelby County’s only pari-mutuel horse track will not have to endure this year is the change from thoroughbred racing to harness racing.
“At this point in time, things are smoother. We won’t have the time and cost of changing our track surfaces in a few weeks, and our horsemen won’t have the costs that are associated with traveling between tracks,” Schuster said.
Schuster said the “one breed-one track” movement has been beneficial for all involved as Indiana Downs is the exclusive home to thoroughbred and quarter horse racing, while Hoosier Park in Anderson has the entire harness meet.
“I think a lot of people are pleased, and this is better for a lot of reasons. Both meets have been strong and productive, and it truly is positive,” Schuster said.
While he does not have to worry about his track surface changing, Indiana Downs and Centaur have said recently, there are several changes that will take effect by the end of the meet.
Earlier this month, officials announced Indiana Downs would implement a purse increase for the remainder of the meet, which ends on Oct. 19.
“With a 10-percent increase in purses, we hope to see an influx of quality trainers, jockeys and horses. The increase will bump up purses across the board from maidens to allowance races. Some will see more of an increase than others, but as a whole, we expect to be right around 10 percent,” said Scott Peine, Indiana Downs race secretary.
Schuster said the push for increased purses is something the track has tried to do in recent years.
“We’ve always tried to bump our purses up, and this is another example. Historically, we take a conservative approach to the opening of the meet. We know and understand the nature of the business and things have worked out very well. This is further evidence that the synergy of Centraur’s ownership of both tracks is a great positive for the Indiana racing industry and we want to make sure the horsemen get their share of their money,” Schuster said.
Even before the increase in purse money, Schuster said the 2013 meet has been a “banner year.”
Indiana Downs has had 2013 Kentucky Derby participants Jon Court and Victor Lebron race several times this year, along with horses belonging to top trainers D. Wayne Lukas, Tom Amoss and Kenny McPeek.
“We have had some of the best horsemen in the country here. We have invested a lot of money and commitment into our facility and it is paying off and we are getting national recognition. It’s exciting and a lot of fun to watch. We have had some amazing horses here in addition to jockeys. Centaur has done a tremendous job of putting us on the national scene. As I have said from day one, we are better together,” Schuster said.
Another change coming to Indiana Downs is a new post time. Beginning Sept. 2 and running through the end of the season, post time will be at 1:55 p.m. instead of the traditional 6 p.m.
Racing will follow the existing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday schedule with the start time change implemented in an effort to gather market data and discover Indiana Downs’ optimal position in the horse racing market.
“The decision to move our time serves a handful of purposes. Primarily, it will give us concrete facts to see where people look at our meet. There is a wide range of money and people available, and it makes perfect sense to switch. For a 7-week period, we will be in a different spot in the national market,” Schuster said.
Race date requests for the 2014 meet are due by Nov. 1 to the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and the seven-week test window will allow local officials to gather data and compare scheduling options.
The post times will be evaluated on several areas including: competitiveness of product, guest feedback and cohesiveness with the ultimate goal being cultivating a fair comparison between alternate schedules and market shares in order to deliver the best racing product possible.
Currently, all live racing in the Hoosier State is done at night.
“We are committed to offering our fans the best and most competitive racing experience possible, and we owe it to them to take a look at this. This window will be good for everyone and it has the potential to turn us into a better racing program,” Schuster said.
April 20, 2013
Daily Racing Form
Indiana Downs opens under the banner of Centaur Gaming for the first time Tuesday and will conduct a 120-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet. Centaur also owns Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind., and received permission from the Indiana Racing Commission to run Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races at Indiana Downs and to conduct Standardbred racing at Hoosier Park.
Brian Elmore, general manager at Hoosier, will oversee racing at both tracks, while Kevin Greely, former racing secretary at Hoosier, was named director of racing at Indiana Downs. Scott Peine remains as racing secretary at Indiana Downs.
Peine said the changes at Indiana Downs since the acquisition have all been positive.
“Knock on wood, everything has gone perfectly since we merged to one Thoroughbred track,” Peine said.
Indiana Downs hired a new track superintendant, John Jameson, and put down a new track surface.
“We did a complete resurfacing and brought in Mick Peterson and Butch Lehr as consultants,” Peine said. “The track has had rave reviews from riders and trainers alike.”
Major work also was done to the turf course, and it is in tip-top shape, according to Peine.
“It is absolutely gorgeous and in such great shape we could probably race over it now,” he said. “We decided to wait until Kentucky Derby Day to use it, though.”
Indiana Downs will run a card of all turf races June 15, including three turf stakes. One of those, the $200,000 Centaur, was formerly named the Oliver and is for 3-year-old horses going a mile.
Both the Indiana Derby and Indiana Oaks retained their Grade 2 status and will be run Oct. 5. The $125,000 Indiana Grand will replace the Indiana Distaff on July 20 and will be for 3-year-old fillies on turf.
The Don K. Memorial starter series will remain intact and have an alternating turf/dirt schedule. The Elizabeth “Annie” Steele Memorial will be the equivalent series for fillies on turf. Annie Steele was a longtime outrider who died from cancer last year. Each series has a purse of $32,000 per race.
Entries have been drawn for the first few days of the meet, and Peine said he was very pleased.
“We made 12 races for Wednesday, and entries have been great so far, especially considering the weather,” he said. “It has been bad, and a lot of guys have missed some training, but the entries have been great.”
Peine had stall applications for 1,900 horses, and Indiana Downs has 600 stalls.
“We are renting 150 stalls at Turfway Park and are covering the cost for the people there to ship up here to run,” Peine said. “We are also planning to build another 300 stalls here.”
Several new trainers have stalls at Indiana Downs.
“We have quite a few new trainers: Ron Moquette, Ray Tracy, Brad Cox, and Tim Glyshaw,” Peine said. “There will also be some Tampa trainers stabled at Turfway.”
Other trainers returning include Barbara McBride, Randy Klopp, Tom Amoss, and Richard Kohnhorst.
The jockey colony will be without perennial leading rider Leandro Goncalves, who has moved his tack to Kentucky. A newcomer, Chris Landeros, has the credentials to take over the top spot, as he has been the leading rider at Lone Star Park three times. Returning riders include Malcolm Franklin, Fernando De La Cruz, and Marlon St. Julien.
Indiana Downs will race four days a week – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays – until July 1, when Mondays will be added until the close of the meet Oct. 19. Six days – May 25, June 21, July 6, Aug. 10, Sept. 21, and Oct. 12 – will be Quarter Horse-only days.
February 20, 2013
Inside Indiana Business
Indianapolis, Ind. — Indianapolis-based Centaur Holdings, LLC announced today the completion of the acquisition of Indiana Grand Casino and Downs in Shelbyville, Ind. The acquisition brings together two of the leading racetrack casinos in the Midwest, with the addition of Indiana Grand Casino and Downs to Centaur’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson, Ind. The $500 million transaction increases Centaur’s total workforce to more than 2,000 Indiana residents.
“Today represents the culmination of considerable time and effort made on behalf of Centaur by our team members, community partners, Indiana regulators and legislators, horsemen, and our sponsors, whose efforts were key to this successful acquisition,” said Rod Ratcliff, Centaur Holdings, LLC chairman and chief executive officer. “Centaur is looking forward to continuing to offer guests in Indiana and from throughout the Midwest the best in gaming, racing, and entertainment through the combination of these facilities.”
Centaur, founded in 1993, is a company built on the precept of furthering the entertainment and economic development benefits of Indiana gaming and horse racing. “Centaur embraces the role and understands the importance of being a dedicated and thoughtful community partner,” said Jim Brown, Centaur’s president and chief operating officer. “As a company, we will place significant support behind efforts to give back in our host communities through both service and support.”
The acquisition will expand Centaur’s Indiana footprint to nearly every corner of the state with racetrack casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville Ind. and off-track betting properties in Merrillville, Fort Wayne and Clarksville, Ind. Additionally, its recently renovated Winner’s Circle Pub, Grille and OTB, located in downtown Indianapolis, represents a $3 million investment in a new, state-of-the-art off-track betting concept.