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No whips? Indiana Downs to offer innovative races

October 11, 2008
HOME PRINT

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When Indiana Downs draws for its Saturday, October 18 card, the program could include several innovative races where the drivers will compete without the use of whips. The new condition sheet, which was released Saturday, offers six overnight races that could be held without whips. Should whips be prohibited in any of the races, the purses will be enhanced.

According to Indiana Downs presiding judge Tim Schmitz, with the recent controversy over whipping restrictions, he and Scott Peine, director of racing at the Shelbyville track, were both contacted by individuals suggesting novelty races held without the use of whips. He stated that Indiana Horse Racing Commission executive director Joe Gorajec was in favor of the proposed races, as was IHRC chairman Sarah McNaught. He also sought the approval of Indiana Standardbred Association president Jack Holton.

“I’ve had several people offer up suggestions and we decided to give this a try,” he added. “Everyone to a person thought it was a great idea. Anything we can do to promote the industry is a good thing.”

In turn, Peine wrote six races – all for pacers – where purses can increase anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 if whips are not used. The decision on whether the races would be contested with or without whips is at the discretion of Peine. The race conditions for the six events are as follows:

  • N/W $3500 IN LAST 5 STS (nw last 2 allow $200): AE: NW 4(IS 5) EXT PM RACES OR $27,500LT (Purse will increase from $6,500 to $8,000 if whips are not used.)
  • N/W $2000 IN LAST 5 STARTS (nw last 2 allow $100)(W/O $35,000 IN 08 NE) (Purse will increase from $5,000 to $6,000 if whips are not used.)
  • CLAIMING HANDICAP $20,000-$25,000 (W/A)-IS PREF (Purse will increase from $10,000-$11,000 to $12,500 if whips are not used.)
  • CLAIMING PRICE $12,000-$15,000 (W/A)-IS PREF (Purse will increase from $8,000-$8,500 to $10,000 if whips are not used.)
  • CLAIMING PRICE $10,000 (W/A)-IS PREF (Purse will increase from $7,500 to $9,000 if whips are not used.)
  • CLAIMING PRICE $8,000 (W/A) (Purse will increase from $6,000 to $7,000 if whips are not used.)

Schmitz made it a point to stress these contests are in the name of innovation, not a stepping stone to barring whips in Indiana in the future. He said that wagering will be allowed on the races, and that the appropriate information will be disseminated to simulcast outlets in advance. He points out that, in previous years, Indiana Downs has hosted $20,000 Invitational Trots on its seven-eighths mile turf course as something new and different, and the races were well received.

“This is a positive for the sport. Why not try another novelty?” Schmitz offered. “Everyone will be on a level playing field. I think it has been shown in the past, and will be shown with these races that horses don’t need to be pounded on to perform to their full capacity.”

Entries close for the October 18 program, which includes four $80,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals for freshman pacers and trotters, at noon on Tuesday, October 14.

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