09/30/2010 5:46PM

Indiana Derby Day

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Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will host the biggest day of Thoroughbred racing in Indiana Saturday, Oct. 2 featuring the 16th running of the Grade II $500,000-added Indiana Derby and the Grade II $200,000-added Indiana Oaks. The 14-race card includes seven stakes races and will boost purses over the $1 million mark, a first in Indiana Thoroughbred racing history.

The addition of Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky in the Indiana Derby has catapulted Hoosier Park into the forefront for racing across the nation, making the Indiana track “King for a Day” during the afternoon card that begins at 12:35 p.m. EST. The Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old will use the Indiana Derby as a springboard into the Breeders’ Cup Classic set for Saturday, Nov. 8 at Churchill Downs.

Baffert will be seeking his second straight win in the Indiana Derby. He conditioned Misremembered to the win last year, establishing a new track record of 1:40.4 for the one and one-sixteenth mile event.

“Bob Baffert has always been very supportive of our stakes races at Hoosier Park,” said Jeff Smith, general manager of racing. “To have Lookin At Lucky in our Indiana Derby will be a fantastic experience, not only for our racing fans, but for our entire Indiana racing program.”

Other top horses that graduated with honors from the Indiana Derby include 2001 winner Orientate, who went on to score the win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2002 and Perfect Drift, 2002 winner who went on to earn more than $4 million in his career. Brass Hat, the title holder from 2004, also went on to earn Grade I winner status and possesses more than $2 million in career earnings.

In addition to the Indiana Derby, the Grade II $200,000-added Indiana Oaks is back. After going on a year’s hiatus, the fillies will return as the lead-in to the Indiana Derby as the 11th race. Always scattered with Graded Stakes winners, the Indiana Oaks also has its fair share of past superstar starters, including 1999 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly winner Cash Run and millionaire winner Bare Necessities, who competed in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Other stakes on the day include the $100,000-added Michael G. Schaefer Mile, the $84,000-added Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes, the $84,000-added Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes Filly Division, the $84,000-added Miss Indiana, and the $84,000-added Hoosier Futurity.

Several special wagers will be offered, including an Oaks-Derby Double, a Pick 3 involving the combination of the Schaefer, Oaks, and Derby, an Indiana Derby Pick 4 featuring the Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes, Schaefer, Oaks, and Derby, and an All Stakes Pick 4 including the Hoosier Breeders’ Sophomore Stakes Filly Division, Hoosier Futurity, Miss Indiana, and Don K. Memorial Starter Handicap Series. Advanced wagering will be available on the entire Indiana Derby Day racing program beginning Friday, Oct. 1.

The Indiana Thoroughbred racing industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 16 years. Since the inaugural season in 1995, mares registered in the state have risen from under 400 to more than 1,100 in 2010. Also, with just a handful of stallions registered in the state when pari-mutuel racing was introduced, the selection of stallions has increased to right at 150, and the numbers continue to grow.

“Now is a great time to be associated with Indiana horse racing,” said Smith. “It has been very rewarding to see the state’s breeding program continue to show solid growth, and the quality of stallions and mares now being brought into the program is astounding. That forward movement is evident in our racing program. The quality of racing has escalated tremendously in the past few years, and with the addition of casino operations infused into our program, it’s just going to continue to grow.”

Indiana Derby Day will be a great example of the opportunities ahead for horse racing. Whether you are a horseplayer, a participant, or just a fan of great racing, now is the time to tune into Hoosier Park and get in on the action.

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