09/05/2007 12:00AM

Hoosier opens to a full house


A crowd of 7,203 - the largest to attend the races locally in seven years - was on hand to usher in the 2007 Hoosier Park meet last Saturday.

The only bigger crowd during a Thoroughbred meet came on the track's inaugural program on Sept. 1, 1994, and by several runnings of the Indiana Derby.

The most impressive performance during the first three days of the meet was Father John's 2 3/4-length triumph in an open first-level allowance on Monday. One of the leading 2-year-olds in Indiana last year, Father John had been winless in four starts since taking the Indiana Stallion Stakes at Hoosier last November.

Father John's record in statebred races did not count toward his eligibility for Monday's race, and his winning time of 1:04.50 for 5 1/2 furlongs earned him a career-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure.

* Father John's older half-brother Father Art seeks to end an even longer losing streak in Friday night's featured second-level allowance which goes as race 9. Father Art, a stakes winner at 2, has been winless in seven starts since May 2006. His best finish during that span was a half-length second to Mr. Mink in the To Much Coffee Stakes last November.

Play Smart, who was stakes-placed at Indiana Downs in July, and Evangeline Downs shipper Gamble on Red may pose the biggest threats to Father Art.