Double The Purses; Record Wagering…Hoosier Park Clobbers Turfway Park!

This week’s LET IT RIDE.COM HOT TOPIC comes from Christina M. Wright of The Herald Bulletin…take a read and VOICE AN OPINION!

INDIANA RACING GAINED RESPECT AT 16th DERBY

ANDERSON, INDIANA — Horse enthusiasts were lookin’ at the track, partly because Hoosier Park got Lucky.

Lookin At Lucky, that is.

The first big-name race horse at the Hoosier Park Racing and Casino brought in big crowds and bets at Saturday’s 16th Indiana Derby, despite the dreary day. It’s a success that the park hopes to continue.

“We really accomplished a new level of respect for our racing product today,” said Jeff Smith, general manager of racing. “We’ve shown the growth in quality of our fields, and we just expect it continue to grow.”

According to Smith, the park broke an all-time record for the number of wagers levied in a single day at 2.7 million, up from 1.3 million last year. The previous record was nearly 2.6 million wagers in 2005.

Smith said the race was broadcast on more than 500 outlets, including some in California and a major racing network.

Much of Saturday’s success was attributed the fame of Lookin At Lucky, who brought national attention to Saturday’s race. The single Indiana Derby race brought in about 848,010 wagers — more than double of the 338,448 for the race last year, according to Smith.

“He’s the all-out favorite,” said Chad Beeman, of Muncie. “If you look at everything, it’s almost an obligation to bet on him.”

Since the 3-year-old colt was favored to win 9-to-1, why did so many people get excited about him racing?

“People like to have a horse to root for, especially if he’s a really good horse,” said Vickie Duke, who races quarter horses she raises in Richland.

But not everyone was certain that Lookin At Lucky would pull off the race, since the track, after a morning rain and continuous drizzle, was decidedly muddy, said Andersonian Jennifer Welch.

Welch’s niece, 17-year-old Katy Powell, bet on Indy Bull for other reasons. Indy Bull chances were predicted to be second to worst just before the race.

“The bigger the odds, the more the money,” she said.

Welch bid on the favorite of the day, however, because her 7-year-old son, Brandon, enjoys watching the colt run.

As the race of the day began, crowds gathered near the track. Inside the covered viewing area, onlookers craned their necks at the televisions.

“It scared everyone that he stayed last for so long,” Duke said.

But, as the horse pulled ahead, the crowd held its breath and then exploded when Lucky crossed the finish line in first place.

“That horse just wants to win,” said trainer Bob Baffert, jockey Martin Garcia standing next to him with mud covering half of his face.

Kentucky, the home of horse racing, is not far away, yet Smith said he believes Saturday was a kickstart for Indiana racing to take the lead.

“We’re just thrilled to enjoy such a big day like this, and it’s great that all this is happening right here in Anderson,” he said.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

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