While horses may not be present yet, there is much going on at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in preparation for the upcoming season of live harness racing that will kick off on Friday, March 28. Hoosier Park's seven-eighths mile oval garnered much acclaim last season as racing fans witnessed 25 track records re-established over the racing surface.
In a continued effort to provide a superior racing product, Hoosier Park has once again placed a major focus on its racing surface and is currently in the final stages of renovating the seven-eighths mile oval. The work began at the culmination of the successful 2013 racing season.
With the help of world renowned track consultant, Greg Coon of Charles E. Coon & Sons Inc., Hoosier Park's Track Superintendent, Jim Shelton began the renovations by surveying the track and removing the previous limestone base that was used in years past. Using the brown limestone material from last season that received rave reviews by drivers and trainers alike, a new base and surface of the same material has been added. In conjunction with the new surface, modest improvements were also made in both turns of the seven-eighths mile oval.
While the weather has proved to be the most hindering factor, both Shelton and Coon agree that they have already made significant improvements to the racing surface and will be ready for opening night.
"We are surprisingly in good shape given the weather conditions we've been dealt this winter,” Coon noted. "This new material has been remarkable to work with. We've got a little bit more work to do in various areas but I think it will be stunning to see how quickly it will come together.”
The racetrack will open for training on Monday, March 17, pending the current weather conditions. The first round of qualifiers is slated for Wednesday, March 19, with an estimated start time of 10 a.m. Hoosier Park will also offer qualifiers on Monday, March 24 to allow horsemen another opportunity to qualify their horses. The qualifiers will be conducted on a Wednesday and Saturday schedule throughout the remainder of the meet. The entry box closes for qualifiers one day prior at 1 p.m. Condition sheets and stakes schedules will be posted as soon as they become available.
"We've been chomping at the bit to get started and with the break in weather just around the corner, we are moving at warp speed to make sure all is ready for our opening,” Hoosier Park's Vice President and General Manager of Racing, Rick Moore noted. "Riding a wave of momentum from last year's meet, we are anxiously looking forward to continuing in that positive trend.”
Building upon the successes of the 2013 live race meet, Hoosier Park's 21st season of live harness racing will kick off on March 28, 2014. Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Friday, Saturday schedule the opening week, a Thursday, Friday, Saturday schedule the second week and then resume a Tuesday through Saturday schedule throughout the remainder of the meet. With a new, daily post time of 5:15 p.m. each night, the live racing season will be conducted through Nov. 15. (Hoosier Park)