During a virtual meeting of the Indiana Quarter Horse Breed Development Program’s advisory committee, members discussed and recommended changes to the 2020 Indiana Quarter Horse racing program as Indiana’s racetracks prepare to commence racing in June after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of the racing season. The recommended program will now be submitted to the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for final approval.
Due to casino closures and potential reduced revenues once reopened, funding available for the program decreased by approximately 43 percent, with the new projected revenue being $747,126 (as compared to $1,331,463 projected in February). However, even with the decreased numbers, the 2020 Indiana Quarter Horse racing program offered for 2020 remains strong.
Indiana Grand Racing & Casino was originally scheduled to open April 14, but the track and the backside were closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine on March 16. The Indiana Horse Racing Commission (IHRC) recently released a phased approach to begin horse racing in Indiana, with the backside of the tracks now open. The plan calls for racing to commence at the two pari-mutuel tracks the week of June 16 without spectators. If there is no change to Governor Holcomb’s “Back on Track Indiana” plan, spectators will be able to return to the tracks after July 4.
The new race schedule will see a reduced number of races, totaling 64 restricted Quarter Horse races over those days, however it does keep the Indiana stakes program in place, including four Saturday cards featuring Quarter Horses exclusively. The lucrative restricted Indiana-bred stakes schedule remains intact, with purses ranging from $75,000 to $150,000, totaling $900,000 paid by the end of the year.
Stakes trial purses will stay at the $15,000 level that was proposed for 2020. The proposed budget will keep the Owner, Breeder and Stallion Awards at the same levels as they were in 2019.
“When you look at the program we’re able to offer, we truly are in good shape. We were able to keep purses at a really good level. They’re actually a little higher than last year,” comments Jessica Barnes, Director of Racing and Breed Development for the IHRC. “We are very grateful to Indiana Grand for their assistance in keeping purses manageable. They have been able to offer help for all three breeds racing in Indiana.”
While the proposed racing calendar from Indiana Grand Racing & Casino sees a change in the race days, focusing on racing Monday through Thursday, four Saturdays have been set aside for all Quarter Horse race days. The newly-revised race calendar is pending approval from the IHRC.
“As bad as it started out, it looks like right now it should be a really fun year, going forward,” says Lance Finlinson, chairman of the Indiana Quarter Horse Breed Development Advisory Committee. “To have this kind of budget and to be able to run this much stakes action in a short amount of time is amazing. We should be proud of the work that’s been done; this is a much better program than I ever dreamed we’d be able to have.”
“When everyone else is reducing purses and incentives, we’re staying the same or even going up,” agrees Paul Martin, president of the Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana.
More information can be found on the program’s website (http://in.gov/hrc/qh/).
Photos available upon request.
ABOUT THE INDIANA QUARTER HORSE BREED DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The Quarter Horse Breed Development program was established to promote the Indiana Quarter Horse industry. In 2007, legislation was passed which approved slot machines at Indiana’s pari-mutuel racetracks. The Indiana Quarter Horse Breed Development Fund receives 30% of the revenue generated from slot machines that is allocated for Quarter Horse Racing.
For more information, see the Indiana Horse Racing Commission’s website: http://www.in.gov/hrc/