04/16/2011 1:51PM

Indiana Downs: Barns are full as meet opens


Indiana Downs begins its eighth season Monday and although its parent company, Oliver Racing LLC, filed for bankruptcy last month, everything will remain pretty much the same as in 2010.

Daily purse distribution at the Shelbyville, Ind., track will remain approximately $200,000 a day. Maiden special weight events will continue to be worth $35,000, with open allowance purses in the $45,000 range. There was plenty of interest from horsemen wanting to stable at the track.

“I had applications for 1,780 stalls and only 640 to allocate, that is a good problem to have,” racing secretary Butch Cook said.

With so much interest, Cook expects full fields.

“I am looking forward to getting on the turf course, that always boosts the number of starters per race,” he said.

The first turf race in the condition book is for May 7, Kentucky Derby evening.

Trainers Tom Amoss, Richard Kohnhorst, Joe Davis, Randy Klopp, Barbra McBride, Eric Reed, Mike Lauer, and George Leonard are all returning. Trainer Bret Calhoun will have a string at Indiana Downs for the first time.

The jockey colony is a replica of seasons past, with leading rider Leandro Goncalves returning as well as Orlando Mojica, Rodney Prescott, Fernando De La Cruz, Francisco Torres, and Rex Stokes III. Apprentice Constantine Roman will split time between Churchill Downs and Indiana Downs.

The $200,000 Oliver will be the highlight of the meet June 15, with the $125,000 Distaff carded for July 13. Both are one-mile turf events. The Shelby County Boys and Girls, The Girls, and Golden Bear are the remaining open stakes events, and each has a $100,000 purse.

Eight Indiana-bred stakes will be held, each worth $84,000-added. The Don K Memorial turf series has been renewed. It offers five $32,000 turf events for starter handicap horses.

General manager Jon Schuster is optimistic about the meet.

“We are very fortunate to have a great relationship with our horseman, and they show great participation.” Schuster said. “Our statebred purses are up, and we are looking forward to continued growth and hopefully our best meet ever.”