Hoosier Park Racing & Casino’s 2014 Champion Driver Series highlighted the 14-race card on Saturday, July 19 and it was LeWayne Miller who was crowned the winner to take home his share of the $5,000 prize. In its’ inaugural edition, the 2014 Champion Driver Series pitted the top-ten drivers at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino against one another in a five-race challenge with the ten coveted spots being based upon wins at Hoosier Park.
As the youngest driver in the group of ten, Miller was able to overcome his sixth place rankings in the standings to accumulate the most points in the five races of the challenge and secure the win. In just his second full season a driver, Miller has recorded 238 career victories and proved a force to be reckoned with in the bike.
The 27-year-old, Indiana native earned two wins, one third, one fourth, and one ninth place finish during the five-race competition for a total of 47 points, beating out nine other Hoosier Park driving stars. Sam Widger finished second with 38 points followed by Andy Shetler finishing third with 37.5 points.
Miller kicked off the challenge with a fourth place finish with Rocknroll Special from post eight earning seven points while Brad Hanners and Lady’s Man notched a victory for 15 points.
In the very next race of the challenge, Miller was able to utilize the long Hoosier Park stretch to get Pam Mater Mark home a winner at 12-1 in a lifetime best performance of 1:55.2. Hanners had Velocity Chip Shot well placed to finish second and earned 9 points. After the second race of the challenge, Hanners continued to lead all drivers with 24 points but Miller was closing in with 22 points.
With a third place finish behind Lyons Frank in the third leg of the challenge, Miller accumulated 8 more points and moved into the lead. Although he failed to hit the board in the fourth leg with Flight Request, Miller earned two points for his ninth place finish and was still atop the leader board, by a narrow margin, with 32 points. Ross Leonard moved into second place with 31 points after a win with Henry Blue Chip.
Miller clinched the trophy by turning a pocket trip into a victory in the final race of the challenge with Mike Wilson’s Stylish Rocket in 1:52.2. It was the fourth win of the season and a lifetime best performance for Stylish Rocket.
“I had some nice horses and I got really lucky,” Miller noted after the victory. “I felt confident about my picks coming into tonight but wasn’t sure what to expect. I picked 6th in the draft and I was happy with that because I felt like I had a decent shot of getting some live horses rather than picking last in some of the races.”
“The trips worked out and the horses showed up,” he continued. “I’d like to thank the trainers and Hoosier Park for this opportunity, it feels great.”
Miller will now aim to defend his title in the second series of the challenge slated for September 27 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. While the second challenge will be conducted in the same manner as the first challenge, the winner of the final challenge will be awarded a one-year lease of a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
“I think I would look pretty good driving that car,” Miller noted with a smile. “Hopefully, things go my way and I have another night like I did tonight.”
The drivers for the 2014 Champion Driver Series at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino have been solidified with Ed Hensley securing the last spot in the competition after a victory on the 14-race card on Saturday, July 12. The first of two rounds in the 2014 Champion Driver Series will kick off on Saturday, July 19th and will pit the top-ten drivers at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino against one another in a five-race challenge for their share of a $5,000 prize.
Qualifying for the 2014 Champion Driver Series began on Friday, March 28 and ended at the conclusion of the live racing card on Saturday. Heading into the weekend, just one win separated Ed Hensley and Mike Micallef for the tenth spot in the win standings. Scoring a victory on Saturday’s card and pushing his meet total to 28, Hensley managed to secure a spot in the top ten standings even after being sidelined for nearly two months due to an injury.
“I’m excited,” Hensley noted at the conclusion of the evening’s card. “I didn’t know if I would be able to get back into it after being out for so long. This is a really great thing Hoosier Park is doing for the drivers and for the fans and I am glad I get to be a part of it, hopefully I can win it too.”
Hensley will join meet leader Trace Tetrick who has secured his number one position with 147 victories. The other drivers, listed by position in the standings, are as follows: Tyler Smith (118 wins), Peter Wrenn (94), Sam Widger (91), Ricky Macomber Jr. (64), Andy Shetler (59), Brad Hanners (59), LeWayne Miller (58), and Ross Leonard (32).
In each of the challenges, the drivers will be picking the horses they will drive via a draft system for all five of the races in the challenge. In the first race of the challenge, the top driver, Trace Tetrick, will get first pick of the horse he wants to drive. Next the No. 2 driver, Tyler Smith, will pick and then continue through all 10 drivers.
For the second race of the challenge, the selection order will be inverted and the No. 10 driver, Ed Hensley, will pick first. This drafting system will continue through all five races of the challenge. Points will be awarded in each of the five races ranging from 15 points for the winners down to 1 point for the 10th-place finisher.
The challenge races will be five consecutive races and compliment the 14-race card slated for Saturday, July 19. After the dust settles and the points have been tallied from each of the five races, one driver will be walking away with his share of $5,000 and a secured spot in the second round of the series.
The top eight finishers from the first challenge will return for round two on Saturday, September 27 with the final two positions being determined by the official Hoosier Park standings at the conclusion of racing on Saturday, September 20.While the second challenge will be conducted in the same manner as the first challenge, the winner of the final challenge will be awarded a one-year lease of a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
For the second consecutive week, the track record for older trotting mares has been re-established in the $17,500 Fillies and Mares Preferred trot at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.
Unefoisdansmavie, with Ricky Macomber Jr. at the lines, re-established the track record for older trotting mares with a 1:53.2 performance in the featured event of the evening on Thursday, June 12 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. Staging a big rally late in the lane, Unefoisdansmavie was able to track down Lady Blitz and Verlin Yoder, who established a new track record with a 1:54 score last week. The 1:53.4 victory marks a seasonal best record for the seven-year-old mare and the second track record that has been lowered over Hoosier Park’s seven-eighths mile oval in 2014.
Leaving from post four in the abbreviated field of seven, Unefoisdansmavie left alertly to get position from post four and reached the front through an opening panel in :27.3. Her lead would be short lived as Lady Blitz used her customary front-running tactics and took over at the second station in :56.2. Unefoisdansmavie was content to sit in the pocket while Easter Teka and Peter Wrenn followed intently in third.
Lady Blitz, looking strong on the front, continued to call the shots around the three-quarter clocking in 1:25.2 but Walked Into Heaven and Trace Tetrick began to apply pressure to their outside. As the field turned for home, Macomber gave Unefoisdansmavie the green light from the pocket and she used a :27.4 final panel to finish a length in front of the field. Lady Blitz finished a game second while Easter Teka trotted evenly for third. As the publics’ second choice, Unefoisdansmavie returned $4.80 at the windows to her backers.
Trained by Hoosier Park’s leading conditioner, Ron Burke, Unefoisdansmavie notched her 28th win from 93 lifetime outings. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Jack Piatt III own the 6-year-old daughter of Revenue S-Peace To The World who now boasts $433,942 in career earnings.
Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino continues on Friday, June 12 with a 14-race card highlighted by the $22,000 Fillies and Mares Invitational Pace. With a daily post time of 5:15 p.m., the live racing schedule will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 15.
Penn made his second start in the top trotting ranks at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino a winning one as he pulled off the 22-1 upset in the co-featured event of the evening, a $22,000 Invitational trot, on Saturday, June 14. Guided by Brad Hanners, Penn equaled an eight-year-old track record for older geldings on the trot when he powered home in 1:53 and established a new lifetime mark in the process. The previous record of 1:53 was established by Hesza Laser and David Miller on June 25, 2005 at Hoosier Park.
Starting from post two in the talented field of eight, Penn was unhurried off the gate and settled along the rail in fourth. Martz Time and Trace Tetrick left alertly to dictate early fractions of :27.3 and :56.4 while Somebody As and Ross Leonard benefitted from a pocket seat. Verlin Yoder had the post-time favorite, Natural Herbie, nicely placed along the rail in third but wouldn’t stay long as they began their long, first-over bid approaching the final turn.
Martz Time continued to call the shots around the third panel in 1:24.3 but was engaged by Natural Herbie on the outside as the field turned for home. Martz Time was able to put away Natural Herbie but the biggest threat was still behind him. Somebody As tipped from the pocket and made a strong big at the leader but it was Penn who was widest and strongest of all.
Using a :27.3 last quarter, Penn tipped four-wide and found another gear to the win in the final strides of the mile. Somebody As finished second at odds of 36-1 while Martz Time rounded out the trifecta that paid $3,483.20. Penn returned $46.40 to his backers.
Trained by Bobby Brower, Penn scored his sixth win from eight seasonal starts. The four-year-old gelded son of Master Glide-Photo Queen scored his 18th career victory and has now earned $75,875 for owner, Barkley Counts.
The victory was one of three wins for driver Brad Hanners on the evening’s 14-race card. Hanners also scored with Rocknroll Band for trainer Keith Richeson and then once more with Grant Wilfong’s Jade Mountain.
Live racing continues at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Tuesday, June 17 with a 14-race card. With a daily post time of 5:15 p.m., the live racing schedule at Hoosier Park will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 15.
Sam Widger notched the 5,000th win of his career after he piloted Brooklyn’s Z Tam to victory in a condition pace at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Wednesday, June 11. The 1:56.2 victory marked a lifetime best performance for the four-year-old daughter of Electric Yankee-Slick Fit and a career milestone for the 50-year-old reinsman.
Trained by Mike Murphy, Brooklyn’s Z Tam was able to take advantage of a perfect second-over trip to record the first win of her 4-year-old campaign. Owned by Connie Blakeman, Brooklyn’s Z Tam now sports a career bankroll of $24,870.
Hoosier Park’s Vice President and General Manager, Rick Moore, along with Widger’s friends and fellow drivers were in the winner’s circle to congratulate and acknowledge his accomplishment.
“On behalf of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, I’d like to congratulate Sam on win number 5,000,” Moore noted. “Through his professionalism and attitude, Sam is a great ambassador for our sport. We wish Sam continued success for the remainder of this season and throughout his career. We look forward to watching him win many more races at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.”
Now in his 28th season as a driver, Widger completed his ninth season with purse earnings surpassing the $2.5 million mark in 2013. The veteran reinsman has gone over the $3 million mark in purse earnings four times in the last eight years and has finished among the top ten drivers at Hoosier Park every season he has competed. Widger also received a spot in the Hoosier Park history books when he guided Bolt The Duer to victory in the 2013 installment of Hoosier Park’s most prestigious race, the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational.
Widger, who has a farm in Beecher, IL that he shares with his wife, Nancy, and his five children, loves to hunt, fish and also enjoys helping out on the family farm in his spare time. Widger remains humble when considering his career and accredits much of his success to hard work, determination and perseverance.
“God willing, trainers willing, and owners willing, we’ll just keep on going,” Widger said after his win. “I count my blessings every day, not only with the harness racing, but with family as well. I’m as rich as anybody could be when it comes to family.”
Widger is currently third on the 2014 leading driver standings at Hoosier Park with 65 trips to the winner’s circle and over $640,000 in purse earnings. Trace Tetrick leads all drivers with 97 victories while Tyler Smith is just behind him in second with 92 wins.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will highlight the 2014 harness racing season to-date on Saturday, June 7 with Indiana’s finest trotters and pacers convening on Hoosier Park’s seven-eighths mile oval for the annual Hoosier Champions Night, the first of five rounds of $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals. A total of 14 races have been established and after the dust settles, four new Indiana Sires Stakes champions will be crowned. The first race will line up behind the starting gate at 5:15 p.m.
Hoosier Park’s leading conditioner, Ron Burke, will send out six horses in the four $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals on the evening. Rose Run Parker will put his seven-race win streak on the line from the Burke barn in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stake Final for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings from post nine with Ricky Macomber Jr. at the lines. Just one race later, Speed Trap will look to score his first Indiana Sires Stakes final win in the three-year-old pacing colt division for the Burke Stable at 5-1 on the morning line.
Hoosier Park will once again partner with HRTV, the Network for Horse Sports, to offer racing fans a great weekend of harness racing action through exclusive coverage of Hoosier Champions night at Hoosier Park.
Revamped for the 2014 season, the Indiana Sires Stakes program features five legs throughout the season, and from each leg, the top 20 horses return to compete in a final and consolation. The 2014 stakes season will culminate with the top ten horses from each of the previous $75,000 finals returning to compete in a $200,000 Super Final on October 18 at Hoosier Park.
In addition to the racing program that boasts lofty purses for the Indiana stakes program, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will offer racing fans a unique opportunity to watch, wager, and witness horse racing history with the running of the 146th Belmont Stakes. When California Chrome enters the starting gate for the 2014 Belmont Stakes, a 1 ½ mile event, he could become the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.
Hoosier Park will welcome guests with extended hours, advanced wagering, live harness racing, and dining specials to take in the excitement of California Chrome’s run for racing history. Doors will open at 10 a.m. with the first race from Belmont Park getting underway at 11:35 a.m. The first four harness races from Hoosier Park will lead into the main event from Belmont, which has an estimated post time of 6:52 p.m.
In addition to the horse racing action on the track, Hoosier Park will play host to the fourth annual Guns ‘N Hoses event. The event pits local police officers and firefighters against one another in a series of challenges to benefit the Fire Rescue House of Madison County. The challenges will begin after the start of live harness racing and range from a foot race carrying Hoosier Park drivers to a dunk tank. Guns & Hoses, open to all ages, is free to the public and will start at approximately 5 p.m. in the Yard.
At the culmination of the challenges, Hoosier Park’s Vice President and General Manager of Racing, Rick Moore, will present representatives from the Fire Rescue House of Madison County with a special $5,000 donation. As a token of Hoosier Park’s appreciation for their continued work to help local families in need, Hoosier Park will make the donation to help further their goals and maintain their high level of community service.
As a special thank you to Madison County local heroes, all firefighters and police officers will receive $10 in casino cash. Guests showing fire department or police department credentials to the Trackside Club Centaur Rewards desk will receive the $10 complimentary gift.
Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule with a daily post time of 5:15 p.m. The 160-day, all harness racing meet will offer an extended stakes schedule and be conducted through November 15.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino is proud to announce Hoosier Park harness racing action has expanded its viewing public to include Australia. Launching on Thursday, June 5, harness racing fans can catch up to six races from the Hoosier Park Racing & Casino signal through a partnership between Hoosier Park and the Australian racing broadcaster, Sky Racing.
Sky’s stable consists of three subscription television channels, Sky Racing1, Sky Racing2 and Sky Racing World. Australian fans will get their first glimpse of Hoosier Park harness racing action on Thursday, June 5 when it launches on Sky Racing2.
Hoosier harness action is set to become a regular Thursday, Friday and Sunday morning feature on Sky Racing2 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Australian time. Viewers can catch up to six races from each Sky Racing broadcast of Hoosier Park’s race card with the potential of additional races in the future.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the quality and competitiveness of the Hoosier Park racing product in 2014,” Hoosier Park’s Vice President and General Manager of Racing, Rick Moore noted. “To be able to showcase our harness racing internationally, and particularly into Australia, is another giant step forward for us. This is something we have looked forward to for a very long time.”
Sky Racing currently takes global harness racing from the United States, France, New Zealand and Sweden and recently broadcast the Copenhagen Cup from Denmark to its Australian audience.
Sky Racing Chief Operating Officer, Brendan Parnell said that race coverage from Hoosier Park will likely increase and his team is looking to extend the import of global harness racing to include additional feature races.
“Sky viewers have taken interest in global harness racing and I’m pleased we are extending this with racing from Hoosier Park,” Mr. Parnell said. “It is a renowned venue with quality harness racing and it’s great we can deliver this to Sky viewers.”
Sky Racing is a world leader in multi-venue, multi-channel race broadcasting, telecasting more than 90,000 races each year to viewers in Australia and around the globe.
Up All Night made his second consecutive trip to Hoosier Park’s winner circle as he scored in the $15,000 Jerry Landess final, a late closing event open to three and four-year-old Indiana sired colts and geldings that are non-winners of $7,500 lifetime, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Thursday, April 24.
After winning the second leg of the series last time out, the four-year-old horse notched his second consecutive victory of the season in a lifetime best effort of 1:53.4.
With Ricky Macomber Jr. at the lines for the first time, Up All Night left from post five as part of the Jim Arledge Jr. trained entry and was unhurried off the gate to settle along the rail in seventh. Likeavirgin and Trace Tetrick left for position as soon as the gate folded and reached the front through a snappy :26.1 opening quarter.
Alwaysagoodthing and driver Dave Magee, the second-half of the Jim Arledge Jr. trained entry, benefitted from a pocket trip while Rattle On Howard and Tyler Smith followed intently in third.
Likeavirgin was able to slow the tempo and dictate a half mile time of :55.1 while the field remained slightly gapped out down the backside. Tyler Smith gave Rattle On Howard the green light and they were the first to take aim at the leaders with Peter Wrenn and Always A Diamond in tow. While the outer flow pressed on, Up All Night used a ground saving trip and progressed nicely along the rail.
Likeavirgin continued to call the shots around the three-quarter clocking in 1:24.2 as the rest of the field began to close in. Turning for home, Rattle On Howard reached the leader’s wheel but the biggest threat was still behind him.
Tipping around tiring cover late in the lane, Up All Night used a :28.1 final panel to win by three-parts of a length. Always A Diamond held on nicely for the second place finish while Ucanthandledatruth and Sam Widger rallied late for third. Slightly dismissed at the windows at 7-1, Up All Night returned $16.00 to his backers for the victory.
Scoring his second win from 16 lifetime outings, the four-year-old son of Mantacular-Kickin Lass increased his lifetime earnings to $17,265 for owner, breeder Laura Baker.
“I was a little worried when they opened up at odds of 41-1,” winning owner Laura Baker noted with a laugh in the winner’s circle. “They both have been nice horses for us and Ricky (Macomber Jr.) did a great job driving him tonight.”
It was a driving double for Ricky Macomber Jr. on the evening as he later went on to score with Cowgirl Hall in the $17,500 Fillies and Mares Featured trot in 1:55.1.
Keep It Real made the final start of his racing career a winning one as he scored with driver Ross Leonard in the featured event, the $15,000 Polar Vortex pacing series final, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Tuesday, April 22. Using a well-timed rally late in the lane, Keep It Real scored in a seasonal best time of 1:54.1 to score the second win of his 2014 campaign and final win of his career.
Trained by Ross Leonard, the eight-year-old horse swept the Polar Vortex Pacing Series as he scored his second consecutive win at Hoosier Park.
“He was a terrific horse to have in the barn,” Leonard noted. “We wanted him to go out in a winning way and we had our eye on this series once we found out about it.”
“He is a classy horse, everything about him,” he continued. “He was a pleasure to be around and a pleasure to drive. He is the type of horse you like to have in the barn and I’m glad to see him get the retirement he so very much deserves.”
Keep It Real will retire from the racing scene with 23 career victories from 75 starts, finishing on the board in 68% of his lifetime outings. While earning $562,615 throughout his career, Keep It Real established his lifetime mark of 1:49 as a four-year-old at Harrah’s Philadelphia.
The veteran pacer, who was unraced as a 2-year-old because of a foot injury, raced amongst the likes of champions Shark Gesture, Well Said, If I Can Dream and harness racing’s richest pacer, Foiled Again, throughout his eight-year-career. Keep It Real also raced in some of harness racing’s biggest races including the 2010 installment of Hoosier Park’s signature race, the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational.
A $45,000 yearling purchase at the Standardbred Horse Sale, Keep It Real is a son of Real Artist. His mother, Magical Leah, was the 2002 New York Sire Stakes champion for 3-year-old filly pacers. His great-grandmother, Goddess Supreme, was the mother of Dignatarian, who won the 1984 Champlain Stakes and earned just shy of $1 million in his career.
American Girl and driver Peter Wrenn found the winner’s circle for the second consecutive time after turning in a sharp, front running effort to capture the featured event, a $22,000 Fillies and Mares Invitational, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, April 4. In just her second start of the season, American Girl switched up her tactics from the previous week and was a decisive winner in 1:55.1 over a track rated good.
Leaving from post seven, Wrenn made his mind up early and sent American Girl firing from the gate while the rest of the field battled for early position. Securing the top spot, American Girl dictated early fractions of :27 and :56.3.while Sectionline Yankee and Sam Widger benefitted from a pocket trip. The publics’ second choice, Blissful Romance and Ricky Macomber Jr., made a costly break around the first turn and were unable to recover. American Girl went uncontested down the backside as the field remained in single file order.
Igottafeelinfran and Brad Hanners were the first to commit to the outer flow as the field approached the three-quarter clocking in 1:26.4. Ross Leonard had Nutmegs Yankee well placed second over and the rest of the field began to tighten up turning for home.
Igottafeelinfran appeared to be up to the task, but American Girl saved her best for last. Wrenn asked her for more and American Girl dug in gamely with a :28.2 final quarter to put a nose in front.
Nutmegs Yankee rallied late in the stretch for the second place finish while Igottafeelinfran held on for third. As the odds-on favorite, American Girl returned $4.00 for the win.
“She raced good last week,” winning driver Peter Wrenn noted in the winner’s circle, “But she was really on her game tonight.”
Trained by Ernie Gaskin, American Girl notched her 16th win from 57 career stars while amassing $392,658 in purse earnings. The five-year-old daughter of Art’s Chip-L Dees Lourdes is owned by Darla Gaskin and Stanley Rosenblatt.
The victory was also a driving double for Peter Wrenn on the evening’s eleven-race card as he scored with Good Sound Advice in 1:57.4 earlier in the evening.
Live harness racing will return to Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, April 5 with a 13-race card that is set to begin at 5:15 p.m. For more information on the live racing season and the upcoming events at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, please visit www.hoosierpark.com.