A total of 14 races are set for the 30th season opener Friday, March 24 at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The card features all pacing events, including the featured $22,000 Open slated as the eighth race on the card.
Headlining the first Open Pace of 2023 is local favorite Little Rocket Man, who is being conditioned out of the Ken Rucker Stable while the Missy and Jody Essig Stable has been south for the winter prepping their stable. The seven-year-old son of Rockin Image comes back to Indiana with two starts already this season at Miami Valley, earning one win in 1:51.0. Owned by Russ Beeman and Jack Freeman of Anderson, Little Rocket Man has 38 career wins in 73 career starts and has only missed hitting the board 16 times in his career. His career best time is 1:47.2 taken as a four-year-old and at the time, tied the track record, which was broken last fall by superstar Bulldog Hanover. Little Rocket Man will look to add to his career bankroll of nearly $700,000 from post six with John DeLong in the bike.
Joining Little Rocket Man in the Open is the return of Goldie’s Legacy from the Jeff Cullipher Stable. Also a veteran pacer, the five-year-old son of Always a Virgin makes his 2023 debut in the race off a qualifying win in 1:53.1. Goldies Legacy begins his five-year-old season with 19 wins in 60 starts and more than $532,000 on his card. His career best time of 1:48.1 was taken last year at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. Tyler Smith gets the call behind Goldie’s Legacy from post eight for Cullipher and Pollack Racing LLC.
The field, in post position order with named driver at the time of the draw, includes Just a Start (Tyler Smith), This Kit Rocks (Joey Putnam), Crooked Smile (John DeLong), Primary Colors (Sam Widger), Crusher Q (Brandon Bates), Little Rocket Man (John DeLong), True Blue Lindy (Tyler Smith) and Goldie’s Legacy (Tyler Smith).
On the other end of the spectrum, a $12,500 Indiana sired event is set for horses just getting started in their career in the ninth race. The non-winners of one features 10 horses with only one having a start already in 2023. A few of the starters competed on the Indiana Sired Fair Circuit last year, including Isitlikeitell from the Leander Schwartz barn. Brandon Bates will guide the Tellitlikeitis three-year-old gelding from post eight.
Also included in the race is the first-time starter Starlit Beachboy, a three-year-old son of Luck Be Withyou. Trained by Mark P’Pool, the gelding makes his racing debut from post four with Brandon Bates in the bike. Starlit Beachboy has two qualifiers to prep him for his first start under the lights for owner Frank Baldachino and Mark P’Pool.
The final round of pre-meet qualifiers are set Wednesday, March 22 with a 5 p.m. post. The annual set of qualifiers serve as a “dress rehearsal” for the meet to prepare for the season opener. The season opener begins at 6:15 p.m. and will include several ancillary promotions along with the action on the track. Opening weekend will also include a card on Saturday, March 25.