Hoosier Park Racing & Casino culminated their 2013 harness racing meet with a 14-race card in front of a packed house on Saturday, November 9. In addition to the racing action, Tyler Smith and Ron Burke secured leading driver and trainer titles, respectively.
Ron Burke, who led the trainer standings from start to finish, was officially recognized as the 2013 leading trainer of the season at Hoosier Park. The Burke barn had an impressive 108 trips to the winner's circle and amassed over $2.5 million in purse earnings throughout the 160-day season. Burke, who is the leading trainer in North America, earned his third leading trainer title at Hoosier Park.
Jamie Rucker, Burke's assistant trainer, oversees all training operations in Indiana and was present in the winner's circle to accept the award from Hoosier Park's Vice President and General Manager of Racing, Rick Moore.
"This was definitely a team effort from the owners, trainers, the horses and everyone in between,” Rucker noted. "We really have put together a great team at the Ron Burke Stable and we've had an awesome year at Hoosier Park. The new Hoosier Park staff, marketing efforts, and racing program has made this season one of the best years we have ever completed.”
In the driving ranks, Smith earned his first leading driver title at Hoosier Park in 2013. Smith scored 262 wins and earned over $2.8 million in purse earnings to secure the title over veteran reignsman, Ed Hensley, who finished second with 260 victories. The Washington Court House native started driving in 2009 and has since surpassed the $5 million mark in purse earnings and is quickly approaching $6 million mark. Smith made harness racing history at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino earlier in the season as he became the youngest driver ever to reach the 1,000-win mark at the age of 20.
Joined by his friends and family in the winner's circle, Smith talked about his love and passion for the sport and his competitiveness fueling the ability to turn that into a career. "Sometimes, I think I'm even too competitive for my own good. We have some great drivers and horses out here every night, and it's great to see all of my hard work paying off by receiving this award,” Smith noted. "I don't think I can ever get too big because there is always something more that I want to accomplish in this business.”
Trainer Alvin Miller, who often calls on Smith to drive his horses, expressed his appreciation for Smith and all that he has achieved this season.
"He's a great kid who has his head is in the right place,” Miller noted after the presentation. "The sport needs more young kids like him. He works hard and is good at what he does, that will take him as far as he wants to go.”
The Saturday night program wrapped up an extremely successful season at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. Hoosier Park Racing & Casino would like to thank all of the fans and horseman who helped make the 2013 season at Hoosier Park an overwhelming success.
For more information on the live racing schedule and upcoming entertainment at Hoosier Park, please visit http://www.hoosierpark.com/
Just as he did in last week's top test for representatives of the lateral gait, the favorite Arockin' Hanover saved the best for last and secured a 1:51.2 victory in the final $12,000 Open pace of the 60th Anniversary season at Vernon Downs.
Truman Gale did the teaming for trainer Jason Robinson in Saturday's 10th event, as a Arockin' Hanover laid back in fifth place as the speedy JK Panache paced the solid seven-horse field through splits of :26.1, :55.1 and 1:24.1 through three quarters of the mile. Taking the overland route from fifth place on the backstretch, Arockin' Hanover rallied to get the lead at the top of the stretch and then accelerated away from his six speedy foes to defeat Western Tsunami by nearly three lengths.
Saturday's come-from-behind score marked the third win in succession (second at the Downs) , the ninth this season and the 21st all time for the 5-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover-Artaffection, who has rustled up more than $100,200 in 33 starts for owner Robert D. Main. His career bankroll currently stands at $383,133.
John MacDonald delivered four driving victories during Saturday's 13-race card, while chauffeur Claude Huckabone, III posted a driving triple, and trainer John Mc Neil, III a double.
Rick Plano repeated as the winningest driver (130 scores) and trainer (51 tallies) during the 88-program meeting. Gary Clark emerged as the leading provisional pilot.
The trotter Ziegler Hanover was the meet's winningest equine with 10 triumphs, while the pacer Hot Cowboy led his gait with seven scores.
Thirteen track records (seven on the diagonal gait and six on the pace) were re-set or tied during the meet, which began on April 12. The season's swiftest pacing mile was a 1:49 performance by Pontiac Luck on Aug. 31, while a brilliant 1:51 effort by Intimidate in the season's Credit Winner Open on Sept. 6 was the fastest trotting mile in the track's history.
(Hoosier & Vernon)