07/30/2011 2:29PM

Hoosier Park: Barns packed for opener


Hoosier Park begins its 17th season Tuesday when the 61-day summer/fall meet begins. The track’s racing secretary, Kevin Greely, is pleased with the progress the Anderson, Ind., track is making in upgrading the quality of its racing, a task he undertook when he began his job last season.

"There is really good quality of horses in the maiden and allowance races so far." Greely said. "We put together a purse structure and program that the horsemen really have responded to and gotten behind."

A total of 89 horses entered in the nine opening-night races, along with two Quarter Horse events that totaled 19 horses. There are three maiden special weight races with purses of $35,000 and three allowance events with purses of $38,000 on the nine-race Thoroughbred card. With that purse structure, there was a huge demand for stalls. "I could use some more barns. We have a total of 880 stalls, and I had applications for over 1,800 horses." Greely said.

Once again the highlights of the meet will be the Grade 2 $500,000 Indiana Derby, The Grade 2 Indiana Oaks, and the $100,000 Michael G. Schaffer Mile, all to be held Oct. 1.

Tom Amoss is back to defend his 2010 trainer title, along with runner-up George Leonard, as well as Barbara McBride, Ralph Martinez, Gary Patrick, and Tracy Wisner. There are several new outfits this season at Hoosier Park, including Bret Calhoun, Greg Foley, and Brad Cox, trainer for Midwest Thoroughbreds.

The jockey colony should be very competitive this season, as 2010 leading rider Leandro Goncalves returns as the fourth winningest jockey in the nation off his Indiana Downs riding title. Terry Thompson, the record-holder for most wins in a season and most wins in a day at Hoosier Park, returns this season as well. The soon-to-be 40-year-old Thompson has spent the past couple of years at Prairie Meadows and Oaklawn Park and is glad to be back where he had so much early success.

"I am really excited, it has been a while, and feels good to get back here." Thompson said. He has a goal for the meet. "I always try to average at least one win a day, that is a good place to start for a goal," Thompson said. Thompson once was the leading rider all-time in wins at Hoosier with 499 wins, but since has been passed by Tommy Pompell with 548 and Rodney Prescott with 615. Both of those riders will be at Hoosier this season.

This will be the first year that Hoosier has a Quarter Horse-only day in the 15 years they have been running the breed. On Oct. 8, there will be trials for the Miss Roxie Little Futurity and the Sterlie Bertram Memorial as well as the finals for the Hoosier Park Classic.