EDITORIAL: Horse racing fans will miss thoroughbreds at Hoosier Park
Mar 02, 2013 (Menafn - The Herald Bulletin - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Centaur's recently approved purchase of Indiana Grand and Downs in Shelbyville means that Centaur will now manage both that racino and Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson.
The company should be able to manage the two together more efficiently, sharing resources. Centaur officials promise that adding the Shelbyville racino to its stable will not diminish entertainment opportunities at Hoosier Park. In fact, they plan to increase such opportunities. A bill now in the Indiana General Assembly, for example, would enable Centaur to add live table game dealers at both locations.
But one decision that was finalized in late February will, in fact, diminish entertainment offerings at Hoosier Park. The Anderson facility will no longer host thoroughbred racing. In past years, Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs have both offered a season of thoroughbred racing and a season of standardbred (harness) racing each year. The Anderson track has hosted standardbreds in the spring and thoroughbreds in the fall. The Shelbyville track has hosted thoroughbreds in the spring and standardbreds in the fall.
It's understandable from a cost-analysis perspective that Centaur would want to use one track exclusively for thoroughbreds and the other for standardbreds. In the past, management at both race tracks has had to change track surfaces and make other adaptations from season to season to accommodate the different needs of the different breeds of horses and different styles of racing. Now, they can set up Hoosier Park for standardbreds and not have to change the track yearly to accommodate thoroughbreds.
The "one breed, one track" decision should also result in a savings for horse owners, trainers and other support personnel, who will no longer have to shuttle horses biannually from one race track to the other. Centaur officials estimate the savings at 300 a horse, or a total of 435,000 annually.
Centaur has good reason for selecting Shelbyville, rather than Anderson, for thoroughbred racing. The tight curves at Hoosier Park have never been ideal for thoroughbreds, and the track lacks a good grass racing option.
But some folks in the Anderson area like to watch and wager on live thoroughbred racing. Standardbreds can be fun to watch, too. But there's nothing like standing along the rail and watching sleek and powerful thoroughbreds thunder past.
Some might note that Hoosier Park is actually gaining more horse racing, going from 80 standardbred and 64 thoroughbred/quarter horse race dates in 2012 (for a total of 144) to 160 standardbred race dates in 2013. But many horse racing fans would gladly give up the extra 16 race dates to bring thoroughbreds back to Hoosier Park.
If Centaur's "one breed, one track" business decision enables both racinos to survive in an era of increasing competition for gaming dollars, then perhaps it will bode well for the long-term success of both facilities. In the meantime, those who want to watch thoroughbreds race live will have to drive to Shelbyville to do so.
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