The Indiana Horse Racing Commission (IHRC) held their final meeting of 2023 at Horseshoe Indianapolis Thursday, Nov. 30 and both operational plans for 2023 were approved for Harrah’s Hoosier Park and Horseshoe Indianapolis. A gathering of approximately 50 people listened to the successes of 2023 as well as plans for the upcoming racing season.
Rick Moore, Vice President and General Manager, kicked off the Harrah’s Hoosier Park portion of the presentation to Commissioners, noting harness racing across the board is up around 5 percent with Hoosier Park showing an increase of approx. 10 percent. Moore noted the biggest highlight of the season was the Breeders Crown, which he said, “was entrusted to us, and we had a sensational event. We, and when I say we, I mean the ISA, the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, the Breed Development, and Harrah’s Hoosier Park, collectively provided an event in harness racing in Indiana that we should be proud of.”
More noted both days brought in a track record handle of $2.1 and $2.6 million, respectively. Fox Sports 2 also covered the event, along with coverage of Dan Patch and Caesars Trotting Classic, which also had record handles. COSA TV, based in Canada, also covered the Breeders Crown and their signal went into 42,000 Canadian homes.
“We had 14, $1 million dollar handles in 2023 compared to four in 2022,” added Moore.
Moore talked about fundraisers for the year, including $54,000 raised for racehorse aftercare during Empire of Hope. He noted a horse from the fractional ownership program First Turn Stable, is now enjoying life as a show horse.
Hoosier Park brought back and enhanced the VIP Owners program. They also distributed $430,000 in community giving, which Jeremy Medley, Director of Marketing talked about. Medley noted he is a native of Anderson and takes interest in giving back to the community through Hero hours and donations. Emily Gaskin, Race Marketing Manager and Commentator, reviewed the marketing budget and plans for the season. She noted they have good success with handicapping contests, family fun activities, and have special plans to utilize the new Hoosier Outdoor Patio (HOP), a new option added in mid 2023, with entertainment and other activities next season.
Later on in the program, Moore reviewed winter training and noted this was the second year for it at Hoosier Park. They have allotted space for 234 horses for winter training. The main track will be closed from Dec. 10 – Dec. 14 for more in depth maintenance. However, the jog track will be open during this time for training. Other dates of note included six days per week of training from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m., two-year-olds move in Jan. 1, 2024, and the full barn area opens March 1 for stabling for the 2024 racing season.