08/26/2008 11:00PM

Statebreds get boost from slots


Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind., will begin its first Thoroughbred meet on Friday since the June opening of its new casino, which houses 2,000 slot machines and 66 multi-player electronic blackjack, three-card poker, and roulette tables manned by virtual croupiers.

When Hoosier Park opened in 1994, the original investment was $30 million. Since legislation was passed last year enabling the racetracks to put in slots, Centaur Inc., the owner of Hoosier Park, has paid a $250 million licensing fee to the state of Indiana and invested more than $100 million to build a 92,000-square-foot casino on the property. The casino is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Indiana horseman have already begun to reap the benefits of the casino as the Breed Development program has received $1.4 million in slots revenue from the first two months of operation.

"The 12 Indiana restricted races have been increased from $50,000 to $100,000 and the added money for Indiana-breds has gone up about $3,000 a race on average," said racing secretary Butch Cook.

The breeder and owner awards are now equal to 20 percent of the purse, and stallion awards are equal to 10 percent of the purse. For now, purses will stay at the same $120,000-per-day average as last year, according to Cook.

"We haven't had a purse increase yet," he said. "We'll have to wait and see what happens. We'll have to see how it averages out over a period of time."

According to Rick Moore, general manager of racing, that should happen within six months to a year.

"It will take some time until we fully know what to expect," said Moore. "We are expecting a marked increase in our purses, but we'll have to wait to figure out exactly how much it will be."

The track no longer receives a subsidy from riverboat casinos in the state as it once did, according to Moore.

In the first month of operation, the casino handled $189 million and had more than 200,000 visitors. It is projected by Centaur that in the first five years of operation, the casino will generate $200 million in purses for the horsemen, $400 million in taxes to the state government in direct gaming taxes, and more than $40 million to Madison County, of which $18omillion goes directly to the city of Anderson. It is also expected to create 550 jobs for the area, while attracting 3 million visitors.

"It is one of the finest integrated entertainment destinations you will find," said Moore. "You have racing, a casino, fine dining, and live entertainment, connected, all in one place."

Last year's leading trainer, Ralph Martinez, will be back, and Gary Patrick, leading trainer at the Indiana Downs meet this spring, will also have a string of horses at Hoosier, according to Cook. Other trainers of note include Randy Klopp, Lori Smock, Kim Hammond, and Barbara McBride. The leading rider at Ellis Park this year, Victor Lebron, is expected, along with jockeys Orlando Mojica, Tommy Pompell, Rodney Prescott, and Terry Thompson.

A total of 15 stakes will be offered at the meet. The meet highlights are the Grade 2, $400,000 Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks on Oct. 3 and the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby on Oct. 4. The $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Mile is also on the Oct. 4 card.

Post times have been switched. In the past, live racing began at 6:45 p.m. Central. This year, racing will begin at 12:45 p.m. Eastern on Fridays through Sundays and 6:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. There will be a special afternoon post on Labor Day, Indiana Oaks Day, and Indiana Derby Day.