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Indiana dates set

October 15, 2003

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The Indiana Horse Racing commission met Wednesday (Oct. 15) to set 2004 race dates. The state’s harness horsemen will race 142 programs next year, down from 150 programs this year, with a two-week gap between meetings at Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs.

When each track filed their initial requests in September, a six-week gap existed between the programs at both tracks. Horsemen said the gap, which would have occurred during the months of June and July, would have greatly damaged the industry. One commissioner agreed that dates influenced field size.

“Racing dates are the kind of thing that causes short fields,” said commissioner Pete Beck. “I don’t see short fields at Maywood and I don’t see short fields at Balmoral.”

At the end of the two-hour meeting, both tracks made concessions to narrow the time between meets. Hoosier Park’s 60-day meet, up 10 days from 2003, will begin March 20 and conclude June 12. Racing will be conducted Wednesday through Sunday. Officials also agreed to keep the track open for horsemen to train until June 26.

Indiana Downs’ 82-day meet, down from 100 dates in 2003, will kick off July 1 and conclude October 30. The Shelbyville track will conduct racing five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, for the first part of the meet, reducing to four days a week near the end. Giving up a potential July 4 closing weekend for their Thoroughbred meet was a tough loss for Indiana Downs.

“It’s huge,” Indiana Downs general manager Jon Schuster said of the schedule change. “We will be unable to maximize our business.”

Hoosier Park will offer 60 days of Thoroughbred racing, Sept. 2–Nov. 21, while Indiana Downs will host 48 days of flat racing, April 9–June 20.--By James Platz
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