In a morning that contained snow, freezing cold temperatures and a fierce headwind down the backstretch, it was difficult for the qualifying session at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. However, a few horses rose to the occasion and scored big miles, including Ike’s Panther from the Tyler George barn.
Driven by Trace Tetrick, Ike’s Panther went straight for the lead in the ninth race of the day. He settled in quickly on the lead through the quarter in :27.3 before facing the headwind down the backstretch. Once past the half in :57.1, Ike’s Panther began to kick into gear and opened up on the field. In the stretch, he picked up the tempo and rallied home in :26.3 for the win by five and one-quarter lengths. Caviart Lotus and Tyler Smith finished second over Maggie Rhee and Todd Warren for third.
Ike’s Panther is owned by Castaldo Racing Stable, who acquired him last fall. The Panther Hanover son was bred by Mervin Eicher. It was his second qualifier of 2023, pairing his start Saturday, March 18 with a qualifier at Miami Valley Raceway in early February. Ike’s Panther re-joined the George Stable over the winter. He was previously part of the leading trainer’s string at Harrah’s Hoosier Park as a three-year-old. Now five, Ike’s Panther looks to add to his 13 career wins and a bankroll of $137,000. His quickest time of 1:49.2 was taken last year at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.
Also faring well from the George barn was Gamblin Mo, also driven by Tetrick. The five-year-old Captaintreacherous gelding scored a similar win gate to wire in 1:54.1. Big Kiz and Brandon Bates finished second over Captain Malicious and Todd Warren for third. Gamblin Mo is owned by SCP Stable, Bill Boyce and George.
The fastest trot of the day was recorded by Rick Plano’s Famous Father, who took over around the final turn and never looked back. The four-year-old son of Father Patrick opened up on the field in the lane, winning by four lengths in 1:55.2. Sweet Boy Ben and Tyler Smith finished second over I Know My Chip and Michael Detweiler for third.
Famous Father is owned by Maryann Plano and was b red by Goran Falk and Christina Takter. He has more than $150,000 on his card with eight trips to the winner’s circle. His quickest time of 1:53.3 was taken as a three-year-old at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.
A special evening qualifying session will be held Wednesday, March 22 in preparation for the 30th season opener set for Friday, March 24.