It has been a year of growth for the Indiana Standardbred Breed Development Program and harness racing in Indiana. The year 2019 saw increases in the number of horses for nominated to the Indiana Sired Fair Circuit and the Indiana Sire Stake, as well as overall purses paid.
2019 Indiana Sired Fair Circuit
The Indiana-Sired Fair Circuit is a series of races at Indiana’s county and State Fairs for Indiana sired and bred Standardbred horses. In order to be eligible to compete in these races, horses must fulfill IHRC registration requirements, be foaled in Indiana and sired by a stallion that stands in the state of Indiana. Races are held for 2- and 3-year-old pacers and trotters, and horses are nominated by their owners each year they race.
Throughout the summer, more than 444 races were held throughout 31 days of racing. Eleven fairs hosted the races: Clinton, Elkhart, Fayette, Grant, Harrison, Jay, Newton, Noble and Shelby. The Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis hosted the Indiana-Sired Fair Circuit Championships during the Indiana State Fair in August.
Throughout these races, 331 horses raced, resulting in 2,587 starters throughout both circuit series. A total of $1,628,250 in purse money was awarded, including the $20,000 championship races, hosted by the Indiana State Fair—the crown jewel of the Indiana Sired Fair Circuit.
Top horses from the 2019 Indiana Sired Fair Circuit include J-S Jasper (Big Stick Lindy – Better Than Dreams, by Here Comes Herbie), winner of the 2-Year-Old Colt Trot at the Indiana State Fair Championships. The gelding posted the track record at Clinton County and posted a season best 1:56.3 while earning more than $42,800 in one year alone for Jack Myers Stable.
Tellawoman (Tellitlikeitis – Twin B Snicker, by Art Major), a 3-year-old filly pacer and winner of her race at the Indiana State Fair, posted a season best 1:54.3 for owners Triple D Stables and Michael Ferriero. The filly has since moved from the fair circuit to find success on the pari-mutuel circuit with her new trainer, Scott Di Domenico, with a lifetime earnings totaling more than $72,600.
“The fair circuit is always fun because it’s a great developmental program for our young horses,” says Jessica Barnes, Director of Breed Development and Racing for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and the Indiana Standardbred Breed Development Program. “We’re working with Harrah’s Hoosier Park to provide more opportunities for our fair circuit horses to step up to the pari-mutuel circuit, which can only increase the quality of our horses.”
Indiana Sire Stakes
The 2019 race season saw the debut of a new format for the Indiana Sire Stakes. Three-year-olds had eight legs with the $250,000 Super Final, while the 2-year-olds had six legs with a $250,000 Super Final.
The revamped Sire Stakes program paid over $8.8 million in purses during 2019, in comparison to $7.8 million distributed during 2018. The Sire Stakes saw new superstars stepping up, such as freshman pacing filly Priceless (Rockin Image – Btwnyurheartnmine, by Real Desire). In route to earning more than $347,000 in 2019, the filly posted a best time of 1:50.2 for owners Kevin Miller and Bert Hochsprung. Coming off her Indian Sire Stakes Super Final win, Priceless won her elimination for the Breeders Crown at Woodbine, just one of her big wins over the year which includes the Kentuckiana Futurity.
After finding success on the Grand Circuit winning the historic Fox Stake at the Indiana State Fair, Odds On Osiris (Rockin Image – Antigua Hanover, by Somebeachsomewhere) finished no worse than second for the second half of his freshman campaign, winning the 2 year Old Pace Super Finals, bringing his first year earnings of $343,895 to owners Odds On Racing.
Veteran trotting mare Churita (Airzoom Lindy – Stonebridge Volare, by Yankee Paco) beat rival, and former Horse of the Year, Hannelore Hanover to win the Aged Trotting Mare title and secure more than $1 million in earnings for owners Porter Professional Service.
“The quality of Indiana-sired Standardbreds is always amazing, but this year was fun to watch,” says Barnes. “We had positive reactions from how our Sire Stakes program panned out this year, so I’m looking to more growth in the coming years.”
When combined with additional opportunities for Indiana Sired and/or Bred horses, such as Late Closers, Indiana Sired Overnights, Fair Stakes and the Mini Series, the 2019 Standardbred Breed Development Program paid more than $14.5 million in purses and incentives for program participants.
The 2020 racing season is already in the planning stages. Thanks to increased funding coming from the implementation of table games at Indiana’s two pari-mutuel race tracks with casinos, purses and breeders incentives will see an increase across all programs, including the Indiana Sired Fair Circuit, Indiana Sire Stakes and Late Closures.
<Photos available upon request>
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