Tuesday was opening day for season 15 of racing at Hoosier Park, but it was the first day of racing in compliance with Indiana’s stringent new whipping rule. The rule, recently adopted by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, is the first-of-its-kind regulation and requires handholds to be taut with the elbows in front of the chest while limiting whipping to wrist action only – minimizing elbow and/or shoulder movement.
Although the limited movement of the drivers in the bike while driving for the wire might take some getting used to by the fans, the lack of more exaggerated whipping did not appear to adversely impact the finish of any of the races. Nine of the 12 races card were won by a length or less. The smallest margin of victory was a head win in 1:59.2 by Habanero and driver Tyler Buter in the eighth race trot, the slowest time of the day. Additionally, two races were won by 1 ½ lengths, the largest margins on the day.
Post time favorites won just two of the 12 races while the longest odds winner of the day was Butterface and driver Mike Peterson, who paid $25.80 to win the last race on the card. The race times were comparable to the same time last year. The fastest race of the day was the first race Inaugural Pace, an invitational handicap won by Robin I Scoot and Jim Dailey in 1:52.4, but the fastest last quarter of the day was Royalton Star’s :27.4 final panel en route to his 1 length 1:53.3 win. Driver Andy Shetler had the hot hand of the day winning four races.
Indiana has had a long history of strict enforcement of its whipping regulations. Over the past five years it has issued 300 rulings for whipping infractions.