by Al Cimaglia
October 26, 2017
This weekend Hoosier Park in Anderson, Indiana will host Breeders Crown racing for the first time. By all accounts the facilities are great and it appears those involved with Indiana racing work very hard to put on a top-quality show. It's nice that a Midwestern track gets a crack at the most prominent weekend of harness racing in the U.S. Certainly, the Indiana breeding program has produced some top-quality horses the last few years and everything points to better days to come.
What piques my interest is how much the betting public will embrace big-time harness racing at Hoosier Park. The Breeders Crown is an event, and harness racing doesn't do nearly as well with big shows as their thoroughbred counterpart. For example, the handle for the thoroughbred Breeders' Cup could show a ten-fold increase at the same track versus a typical weekend. In 2016, there was an approximate 40% increase in handle at the Meadowlands for the Breeders Crown compared to a typical Saturday night.
For Hoosier Park the measuring stick should not be a comparison with their own facility from a typical weekend. What will be most interesting is how close Hoosier Park can come to the $3.4 million in total handle the Meadowlands achieved last year on the Saturday of Breeders Crown weekend. So far, the betting public has not taken a liking to Hoosier Park racing in the same way they do at the Meadowlands, Mohawk/Woodbine or even at Hawthorne. The betting pools are well below those tracks on average. That's been the case although there are full fields, a solid driver colony and the track does promote its product.
Perhaps having the finest horses on display on a big weekend will help change the course for Indiana harness racing. Maybe the betting public will embrace Hoosier Park not only on this Friday and Saturday but from now on. That would be the hope for those who strive to make Indiana harness racing one of the top programs in the United States. Time will tell if having a Breeders Crown weekend in Anderson will spark the betting public to make Hoosier Park a regular part of its betting menu.
Breeders Crown Preview
Friday night the ladies will take center stage as the finest 2 and 3-year-old fillies, and mares will be featured in races 7-12. On Saturday it will be the boys turn to shine in races 7-12. The only exception will come in Race 7 when Hannelore Hanover, who is a trotting mare takes on the boys.
In Race 7, a compact field of four trotting mares led by Emoticon Hanover will do battle over a $250,000 purse on Friday. In Race 8, a full field of ten 2-year-old filly trotters will compete for a hefty $600,000 purse. The star of this show is the ultra-impressive Manchego, who will be looking for her 12th win in as many starts. In Race 9, a very competitive field of sophomore filly pacers will by vying for a share of a $500,000 purse. The luke warm morning line favorite is Caviart Ally (3-1) as she will look to rebound from a fifth-place finish in her elimination race last week. In Race 10, the queen of 3-year-old filly trotters and the 3/5 program chalk is Ariana G. The Jimmy Takter trainee is machine like and leaves from post #8. She will be looking to capture the winner's share of a $500,000 purse. In Race 11 a full field of freshmen filly pacers are led by Rainbow Room (8/5) and Youaremycandygirl (9/5), as a $600,000 purse is up for grabs. The final Breeders Crown event on the card comes in Race 12, as pacing mares try to snag a share of a $250,000 purse. The morning line favorite is #3-Nike Franco N (2-1), while #4-Darlinonthebeach (3-1) is the 2nd chalk.
On Saturday evening, the Breeders Crown gets rolling in Race 7 when the great Hannelore Hanover takes on nine male trotters in a quest for the winning share of a $526,250 purse. The 7/5 morning line favorite will leave from post position #4. In Race 8, a field of ten 2-year-old trotters will duel for a piece of a $600,000 purse. Freshmen pacing colts and geldings will roll in Race 9 and it is a competitive field of ten. The program favorite is #3, Lost In Time who will be looking to take the winner's share of a $600,000 purse. In Race 10 sophomore trotting colts and geldings will battle for a $527,500 purse. The leading money winner in the ten-horse field is What The Hill (3-1), who will leave from post position #3. Race 11 will feature 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings, and will have a $527,500 purse. The 8/5 morning line chalk is #4-Downbytheseaside who will be looking to add to his 2017 earnings of $1,084,735. Race 12 concludes the Breeder Crown races with a very competitive Open Pace for older horses with a $421,000 purse. David Miller chose to drive the 2nd program chalk #5-Mach It So (7/2) over the morning line favorite #3-Dealt A Winner (3-1).
Check back Friday and Saturday for my individual race picks. I'll be covering all of the races this weekend.