The Standardbred horses made their anticipated return to the seven-eighths mile oval at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday morning for the first round of qualifiers in preparation for the 20th season of live Standardbred racing. The opening qualifying session featured ten qualifiers filled with horses gearing up for the upcoming season along with some familiar names making their 2013 debuts.
Indiana stakes champions ABC Mercedes, Dontfusswithruss, and Rustles Chip were among Saturday morning's qualifying participants.
Millionaire trotter and multiple Indiana Sire Stakes Champion ABC Mercedes returned to the track with a second place finish in 1:59.3. Driven and trained by Trace Tetrick, the three-time Indiana trotter of the year charged home in: 26.3 but was unable to track down Jessejo and driver Ed Hensley who finished a nose in front. Dontfusswithruss finished just behind the top pair in third for driver, trainer Joe Essig Jr.
Tetrick, Hoosier Park's reigning leading driver, was back in full swing as he qualified six from his own stable.
"I'm excited to be back and start the season,” Tetrick noted. "The track held up well today with the weather and I think it will only continue to get better as the season goes on. I was happy with all my horses today and am looking forward to racing.”
Indiana Sire Stakes champion Rustles Chip romped to a four length triumph in a 1:55.4 in his qualifier for trainer, driver Don Eash. The 4-year-old gelding won the $200,000 Indiana Sire Stakes final for 3-year-old colt and gelding pacers in 2012 and has earned over $200,000 in his short career. The son of Art's Chip is owned by Eash Racing Stable.
Qualifiers will be held on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the remainder of the season with an estimated start time of 10:00 a.m.
Live racing is set to kick off at the Anderson, IN track on April 2 and will follow a Tuesday-Saturday schedule with a daily post time of 5:30 p.m.
For more information on the upcoming racing season, please visit http://www.hoosierpark.com/.