09/28/2004 11:00PM

Weekend offers Hoosier's top stakes of year


Hoosier Park's stakes schedule springs to life in a big way this weekend, with over $1 million in purses on the line over a three-day festival that includes Friday's Grade 3, $400,000 Indiana Oaks and Saturday's $500,000 Indiana Derby, which has been upgraded to a Grade 2 this year.

The derby received graded status following its 2001 edition, in which Orientate was a front-running winner. The 2002 edition solidified the race's graded status when Perfect Drift survived a late charge from Easyfromthegitgo. Last year, Excessivepleasure led throughout to take home the winner's share of a $400,000 purse.

Bo Derek, who starred in the movie "10," will be the celebrity guest of honor for the 2004 Indiana Derby, as the track has geared its advertising around celebrating its 10th year of racing. Derek will be greeting fans from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Eastern, and the Crossroads Band will perform near the paddock area from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. There will also be a hog roast in the BBQ Barn and appearances by the mascots from local sports teams.

Friday's card also offers the $40,000 City of Anderson Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs, which drew a field of 10 Indiana-bred 2-year-old fillies. Trainer David Norris sends out an entry, including Free Bonus, who will try to improve on her 4 1/2-length maiden win here Sept. 10.

On Saturday, the Indiana Derby card is supported by a pair of $40,000 Indiana-bred stakes: The Hillsdale Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings at 5 1/2 furlongs and the Richmond for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles.

* Jockey Ramsey Zimmerman scored four wins Wednesday and has a 40-31 lead over Rodney Prescott in the rider standings.

* Call Roy, who won his maiden opening weekend by 12 1/4 lengths, returned with an equally impressive run Saturday evening, winning by 13 1/2 lengths against nonwinners-of-two allowance company.