07/31/2012 3:51PM

Hoosier Park begins its 18th season on Wednesday


Hoosier Park begins its 18th season Wednesday, and patrons will immediately see what is new when they look at the infield. A new, state of the art video board has been installed, as well as new LED lights on the toteboard.

"It is a high quality picture that is just unbelievable," said general manager of racing Brian Elmore. "It is a16-foot by 24-foot LED board, it is really something to see."

Elmore is looking forward to the upcoming 64-day meet that runs through Oct. 27. "We have been filling races good and filling good races, I am very excited about that," he said. "There has been an overall attempt to upgrade the entire facility.

"We have upgraded the dining room with new pop up TV's as well as new furniture. We are just trying to make sure we stay a top-notch facility."

Oct. 6 will remain the richest day in Indiana Thoroughbred racing when the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby, $200,000 Indiana Oaks, $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Mile, and $100,000 Mari Hulman George Stakes will be run.

The purse schedule will remain the same, according to racing secretary Kevin Greely. "We will distribute an average of $240,000 a day and try to upgrade the overall quality of racing." he said. "There was a mandate put in place by the Indiana Racing Commission two years ago that is still in effect saying that the track must run 20 percent of their races for claiming prices of at least $25,000. "We were at 28 percent and then 29 percent last season. We are making a concerted effort to upgrade our racing and will continue to do so."

Two Indiana-bred races have been renamed and will be run for $200,000 rather than the $84,000 in previous years. They will be called the Signature Series, according to Greely.

The same trainers that have been here in previous years will return. "I think New York got all the new outfits this year." Greely joked.

Gary Patrick will be back to defend his training title, along with Barbara McBride, Tom Amoss, Randy Klopp, Richard Kohnhorst, and Mike Lauer.

Leandro Goncalves will defend his riding title against Fernando de La Cruz, Rodney Prescott, and Marlon St Julian. Newcomers include Carol Cedeno and apprentice Kevin Navvaro.

Hoosier will race Tuesday through Saturday, with first post 5:30 p.m. Central during the week and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.