11/01/2017 9:34PM

Giwner: Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park a clear success

Derick Giwner
Hoosier Park broke out some beautiful ice sculptures to celebrate the Breeders Crown.

By all accounts, with the exception of the weather, the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park was nearly perfect. In fact, it was nearly impossible to find a negative comment from any of the owners, horsemen and fans in attendance at the track this past weekend.

Beyond everything, what Hoosier Park brought to the table was hospitality. The staff was all smiles and at every corner went out of its way to ensure everyone in attendance left with a pleasurable experience.

“It was beyond my wildest expectations,” said Hoosier Park Vice President and GM Rick Moore when asked if the event was a success. “Not only was the handle great and racing great, but the performance of every Hoosier Park team member was beyond excellent. Words won’t suffice. This team rallied to make sure this Breeders Crown was the best it could be, maybe in some people’s minds it was the best ever. The hospitality, the customer service, the smiles, the attention to detail, I could never thank our team members enough for their performance over this weekend.”

Friday brought rain for the first half of the card and Saturday was downright brisk, but the Indiana faithful crowd didn’t seem to mind, packing the nearly every portion of the grandstand, especially on Saturday when walking a straight line from one end of the building to the other was nearly impossible without bumping into a few dozen people.

The crowd wasn’t just filled with locals and connections from the various Breeders Crown horses. We ran into bettors and fans of the sport that travelled from the east coast to be a part of the big day at Hoosier. Every single one of them seemed thrilled with the Hoosier experience.

“Hats off to @HoP_Racing for putting on a great show. Love this place,” said New Yorker John Buonomo via Twitter.

Trainer Paul Kelley said, “Thanks to @HoP_Racing for a great #BreedersCrown17! First class production!”

“Great job by everyone. Loved my first Breeders Crown and first trip to Hoosier. Hope you host it again sometime. Will definitely be back!” said Darren Rankin on Twitter.

“This VIP tent @HoP_Racing for @Breeders_Crown is absolutely the bomb! Having such a great time!” said Kimberly Mosher via Twitter.

Murray Brown, who they don’t call the curmudgeon for nothing, heaped praise on Hoosier via a Facebook post, “Hoosier hospitality is second to none. The folks at Hoosier Park put on a fantastic show Friday and Saturday. Thank you everyone involved for a great job. Well done folks!”

Hoosier also did well on the handle front. Despite simulcast distribution not being offered to some Advance Deposit Wagering companies, the track checked in at $1,773,829 in handle on Friday and $2,064,015 on Saturday with 14 races each night. Those figures do not include wagering from Australia.

To place the numbers into perspective, The Meadowlands handled $2,948,341 with four Crown races on Friday (13 races total) and $3,461,457 with eight Crown races on Saturday (13 races total) in 2016.

“We are not The Meadowlands. We are not New York City,” said Moore. “We are in central Indiana, but I think the simulcast world realized that the racing here this weekend was nothing short of excellent. The competition was great. We had the superstars of racing here. And how about the Indiana sired and bred horses, the performance they put on?

“I think this will only stimulate more of these type horses being bred here in the state of Indiana and it is only going to get better.”

Looking back to 2015, Woodbine handled C$4,078,687 if you exclude the $1.6 million wagered into a $557K Jackpot carryover wager. Woodbine hosted all 12 Crown races on one card, as did Pocono in 2013 when they handled $3.2 million including wagers from Down Under.

Hoosier also saw a wagering spike for both Breeders Crown elimination cards handling $820,021 on Friday, October 20 and $983,675 on Saturday, October 21, well above a normal night of weekend racing at the Hoosier State oval.

While the Crown is already scheduled to return to The Downs at Pocono in 2018, a location has yet to be named for 2019 and into the future. Rick Moore wouldn’t rule out Hoosier making an encore performance as host.

“We’ll talk to the Hambletonian Society. It is up to them,” said Moore. “It was a privilege for us to host it this year. We’ll have to see if they would like us to host it in the future, but if things work out, I’m sure we would love to host another Breeders Crown.”