Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Ind.
As another year of Thoroughbred racing comes to a close in Indiana, many are reflecting on a year that set numerous records and implemented a lot of new concepts at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. Brian Elmore, Executive Director of the Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), and Eric Halstrom, Vice President and General Manger of Racing for Indiana Grand, reviewed all the accomplishments for 2021.
“The camaraderie in Indiana this season was unprecedented and as a result, we undoubtedly had our best year to date,” said Elmore. “We started out with an extensive planning project and were able to achieve everything on the list thanks to everyone coming in and doing their part with one goal in mind – what was best for Indiana.”
Elmore noted the partnership with the Indiana Thoroughbred Breed Development Advisory Committee, led by Jessica Barnes, Indiana Grand led by Joe Morris, Senior Vice President of Racing, and Halstrom, Joe Davis, president of the Indiana HBPA and the board of directors, members of the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (ITOBA), and members of the Indiana Thoroughbred Alliance (ITA) all contributed to the success from all angles. As a result, the state established numerous records, including the highest amount of money paid for Indiana bred and sired overnights and stakes ($9,096,200), a record for highest amount of money paid in breeders awards ($3,274,045), a record number of Thoroughbred Breed Development races run (400), and a record for highest amount of money paid in stallion awards ($777,205), showing the continued growth and investment in the state’s breeding and racing industries.
“Our board really worked hard to ensure we had everything in the right place for racing in 2021,” said Davis. “We spent a lot of time working out details with Indiana Grand track management as well as the Breed Development committee members and it really paid off. We want to thank everyone involved for their time and commitment to Indiana racing.”
Along with state records, Indiana Grand also hit several new marks, including a record for all sources handle ($223,204,265), a record single day handle during Indiana Derby ($6,292,388), and a record number of purses paid at $36,035,650.
“We had a large number of people engaged in our product from the start of the meet,” noted Halstrom. “From the horsemen to racing fans, we had great momentum carrying us through the 123-day racing season. It set the tone as our company continues on the path of expansion and enhancements directly related to the racing program. We have a lot to celebrate.”
Some of the enhancements Halstrom referred to include the current construction of a new 100-stall barn and a 50-room dormitory, the completion of a new Equicizer, the addition of a drone during live racing, and a new lighting and paving project in the barn area. In addition, the track introduced several new lower takeout rates which were appealing to handicappers and had a direct impact on purses, which were increased twice during the season.
The HBPA also implemented several programs throughout the year specifically for their membership base, including a produce stand with reduced rates from mid-May through September, three Ice Cream truck events, two large dinners for those living and working on the backstretch, and an active Chaplaincy program which provided a monthly dinner in addition to transportation for food, medical appointments, and overall ministry on an on-going basis for its member base that exceeds 2,000.
“It just goes to show how strong a program can become when everyone pitches in and works toward a common goal,” added Elmore. “And we feel this is just the beginning. With this momentum, we will continue to work with everyone to take racing to the next level in 2022.”
The 20th season of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing is set to resume Tuesday, April 19 and run through Wednesday, Nov. 23. Racing will be held Monday through Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. with Thursday racing beginning at 3:30 p.m. A total of 12 Saturday racing programs will be held in 2022. For more information on events and racing, go to www.indianagrand.com.
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