One of the most highly anticipated days on the harness racing card at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will take place on Friday, August 8 as the best in the sport of harness racing will descend upon the seven-eighths mile oval for the 21st edition of the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational. As part of a weekend long festival of entertainment and racing, ten of the top rated pacers in North America will take center stage as they go to post seeking glory in Hoosier Park’s signature harness racing event.
Hoosier Park’s most prestigious pacing race has become a tradition that is close to the hearts of Hoosiers. The Dan Patch, an invitational race, not only highlights some of the best athletes in the sport of harness racing, but is deeply rooted throughout Indiana soil.
Hoosier Park’s event is named after the early 1900s racehorse phenomenon, Dan Patch. Originally from Oxford, Ind., Dan Patch raced the clock rather than his inferior competitors. Drawing crowds of over 90,000 people at a single race, the free-legged equine hero was the unparalleled sports icon of his time.
The Dan Patch race was established at Hoosier Park in 1994 with Ready To Rumble and driver Trevor Ritchie winning the inaugural edition 20 years ago. The list of all-star horses that have made their way to Hoosier Park over the years includes Jenna’s Beach Boy, Maltese Artist and former seven-eighths mile world record holder, the late Pacific Fella.
Scott Peine, Hoosier Park’s racing secretary, inherits the responsibility of recruiting the best horses to compete in the event every year. Peine begins making his list of potential contenders for one of the ten coveted invitations to the Dan Patch many weeks in advance.
“We are looking at what may be the most competitive field to date in the 2014 edition of our signature race,” Peine noted. “We haven’t officially decided, but the horses we are looking to invite are evenly matched and that makes for great racing. There is an outstanding group of older pacers racing all over the country right now and we are looking forward to bringing them to Hoosier Park.”
Post positions for the 2014 edition of the Dan Patch will be drawn at a community luncheon held at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Tuesday, August 5.
This year delivers a new and exciting aspect as the winner of the 2014 Dan Patch Invitational will get an automatic nomination to the 2014 edition of the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby slated for Friday, October 31 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. All nomination fees will be waived but in the event the winner of the Dan Patch Invitational has already been nominated to the Hoosier Park Pacing Derby, a refund of all fees will be given upon declaration.
The Dan Patch Invitational will be part of a special weekend tagged as the “Dan Patch Festival Weekend” and will feature extreme entertainment, giveaways, and racing. The thrill-themed weekend will showcase some of the most notable names in harness racing alongside free fireworks, giveaways, and interactive family-friendly entertainment. Also, highlighting the weekend will by a concert by Little Big Town on Saturday, August 9 as Hoosier Park continues their summer concert series line-up.
While she may have played the bridesmaid in her first start against stakes company, Im The Real Lady found the winner’s circle when it mattered most as she shined in the featured event, the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for two-year-old pacing fillies, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, July 25. With driver Peter Wrenn at the lines, Im The Real Lady was able to overcome a tough, first-over trip to score the second win of her career in a lifetime best performance of 1:54.3.
Leaving from the coveted rail position, Im The Real Lady was eased off the gate to settle along the rail in fifth while the rest of the field sorted out early positions. Trace Tetrick had Flight Cancelled dialed in as he sent her to the front through an opening panel in :28.4. Shady Linds and Ed Hensley were well placed in the pocket while Aristobrat Hanover and Tyler Smith found good, early position third along the rail from post nine.
Flight Cancelled dictated fractions of :58.1 and 1:26.4 before ever feeling pressure from the rest of the field. Unable to wait any longer, Wrenn gave Im The Real Lady the green light heading into the final turn and they began their long first-over journey to the front with Ashok Ace and LeWayne Miller in tow. The field began to tighten as they rounded the final turn and it was a cavalry charge to the wire.
With the even money favorite Feetonthedashboard and Dale Hiteman making a costly break around the final turn, the race appeared to be wide open. Im The Real Lady had reached the leader’s wheel half-way down the stretch and dug in gamely to put a nose in front at the wire. Flight Cancelled held on for the second place honors while Aristobrat Hanover took advantage of a ground saving trip to round out the trifecta. Sent off at odds of 4-1, Im The Real Lady returned $10.00 at the betting window.
“The trip wasn’t perfect but she was on her game tonight,” Wrenn noted after the win. “She’s a pretty handy little filly that is just starting to learn how to race and come into her own.”
Trained and Owned by Perry Smith, the daughter of Real Desire-Hysterical Lady has now won two of three career starts while amassing $47,100 in career earnings. Im The Real Lady won her career debut at Hoosier Park and followed that performance up with a second place finish in her elimination round of the Indiana Sires Stakes action last week.
Freshman pacing colts were in the spotlight at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Thursday, July 24 in the second round of Indiana Sires Stakes action but the night belonged to trainer Jeff Cullipher and driver Sam Widger.
The Cullipher-Widger duo teamed up to score in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final for two-year-old pacing colts with Toni’s Affection in 1:51.4 and then just a few races later in the $25,000 consolation for two-year-old pacing colts with Ima Full Time Job in 1:52.3. Cullipher sent out three of the ten entries in the $75,000 final from his stable and in the end it was Toni’s Affection prevailing in a hard fought battle to the wire. Stablemates Harfo Hanover and Mr. Julian finished second and fifth, respectively.
Leaving from post two, Widger sent Toni’s Affection away from the gate just enough to secure an early position along the rail in second. Camturo Rock and Dave Magee would get the first call through the opening panel in :26.3 but quickly yielded the lead to the post time favorite, Freaky Feet Pete and Trace Tetrick.
Freaky Feet Pete carved out fractions of :55 and 1:23.3 before feeling a threat by Skyway Dante and Peter Wrenn who were on the attack first-over. As the field turned for home, Freaky Feet Pete began to labor on the front with the rest of the field closing in. Camturo Rock surged from the pocket to take a short lead but was unable to hold off the hard charging Toni’s Affection.
Toni’s Affection utilized a :27.4 final quarter to win by a head in a lifetime best effort. Camturo Rocked finished second but was placed third after a judge’s disqualification in the stretch leaving Harfo Hanover and Tyler Smith to inherit the second place honors. Slightly dismissed at the betting window, Toni’s Affection returned $18.40 to his backers.
“This is the toughest group of Indiana-bred two-year-old pacing colts that I’ve ever seen,” Cullipher noted after the victory. “I’ve always had faith in this colt though, he has been the perfect horse to train all winter and I had a lot of confidence in him tonight.”
“This is just amazing,” he continued. “His namesake was here tonight and everything worked out for us. He is a nice, nice colt.”
Toni’s Affection was a $19,000 Harrisburg Yearling Sale purchase and was later re-named after co-owner David Lewis Linker’s wife. Linker co-owns the son of Always A Virgin-Yankee Affection with Thomas Pollack. Toni’s Affection has now amassed $71,250 from four lifetime starts for his connections.
Pollack and Linker would find the winner’s circle once more with the Cullipher-Widger duo this time in the $25,000 Indiana Sires Stakes consolation for two-year-old pacing colts with Ima Full Time Job in 1:52.3 who is owned in tandem by the partnership of Randall Bendis, David Linker and Thomas Pollack.
In much the same fashion, Widger had Ima Full Time Job forwardly place through hot opening fractions of :26.1 and :55.1 set by the heavily favored Kelly D and Trace Tetrick.
When the field hit the three quarter mark in 1:24.4, Kelly D was clinging to the lead while the rest of the field closed in. Widger was able to find the late racing room he needed in the stretch and Ima Full Time Job did the rest.
Using a :27.3 final quarter, Ima Full Time Job coasted home a winner to finish a length in front of Rockin Jimmy and LeWayne Miller. Much like his stablemate a few races earlier, Ima Full Time Job was slightly dismissed at the betting window and returned $17.20 for the win.
“This colt may be the sleeper,” Cullipher noted after the race. “He’s had some bad racing luck with post positions and trips earlier in the season but take nothing away from him, he’s a nice colt.”
It was a maiden breaking victory for the son of I Scoot Hanover-Mother Alberta in just his fourth career start. The freshman colt has now earned $50,350 for his connections.
Freshman trotting colts were the featured attraction at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in the second round of $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals on Tuesday, July 22. After a costly break in the first $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final at Hoosier Park, Airman Batten and LeWayne Miller rebounded nicely to score in 1:57 and make a clean sweep of the second round of the stakes action. Last week, Airman Batten made quick work of his $20,000 elimination to score in 2:00.3 and secure his spot in the $75,000 final.
In a field ruled by miscues, Airman Batten was eased off the gate this week from post six to settle along the rail in fifth while the field sorted out early positions. Summit City Nate and Sam Widger were the quickest off the gate and dictated early fractions of :27.4 and :58.3. Victory Blitz and Andy Shetler were well placed in the pocket while Homicide Hunter and John DeLong followed intently in third.
Summit City Nate continued to call the shots down the backside but yielded the lead to Homicide Hunter at third station in 1:28.1. With most of the field breaking stride, it was a four horse race to the finish with Homicide Hunter leading the charge.
Using a :28.2 final quarter, Airman Batten saved his best for last as he staged a big rally late in the lane to wear down the tiring leader. Homicide Hunter trotted evenly to finish second while Summit City Nate held on gamely to round out the trifecta. As the 6-5 favorite, Airman Batten returned $4.60 to his backers at the window.
Trained by Erv Miller, the son of Swan For All-Ladylike Volo has now won three of four career starts. Airman Batten set a lifetime record with the 1:57 score and has now amassed $66,500 for his connections of Paymaq Racing, Harvey Eisman, and Greg Gillis.
With the win, Airman Batten also earned points for the $200,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Super Finals slated for October 18 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. The Indiana Sires Stakes program will culminate with the top ten point earners from the previous $75,000 finals in each division returning to compete in the super finals.
Indiana Sires Stakes action returns to Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Wednesday, July 23 with the second of five $75,000 finals for the two-year-old trotting filly division. With a daily post time of 5:15 p.m., live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino highlighted their 21st season of live harness racing with a stakes filled card on Saturday, July 5. Four new Indiana Sires Stakes champions were crowned on the evening that featured the first of five rounds of $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals for the freshman competitors and the second round of the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals for the three-year-old divisions. It was Hoosier Park’s leading driver, Trace Tetrick, who stole the show with five winners on the evening’s 14-race card, four of which came in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes finals.
In the opening division of the two-year-old stakes action, Crunchess Finale and Darrel Wright continued their winning ways to score their third consecutive victory in the $75,000 two-year-old trotting filly final with a 1:58 final time.
Using the same front-running tactics as she has in her previous two starts, Crunchess Finale looked every bit the part of an 8-5 favorite and left alertly from post eight. The freshman filly easily secured the lead and clicked off fractions of :28.3, 1:00, and 1:28.2 before finding another gear. As the field turned for home, the daughter of Abc Garland-Crunchess looked poised on the front and began to trot away from the rest of the field. Using a :28.4 final quarter, Crunchess Finale coasted on to the wire to finish five lengths in front of Golden Big Stick and Brad Hanners. Heavily backed at the window, Crunchess Finale returned $5.40 to her backers.
The 1:58 victory was a lifetime best mark for the Dan O’Mara trainee who remains undefeated this season. Owned by Joseph Hess, Crunchess Finale has now earned $50,500 from three lifetime outings.
In the very next race, Stickem Buck, driven by Ed Hensley, staged a big rally late in the lane to score his maiden breaking win in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for two-year-old trotting colts in 1:58.2.
After a miscue at the start by the heavily favored, Airman Batten the race appeared to be a wide open affair. Flashy Cantab and Trace Tetrick left aggressively to set first half fractions of :29.2 and :59.2 before making a costly break around the final turn. Swan on One and Dave Magee inherited the lead after the break by the front-runner and appeared to be up to the task but Stickem Buck loomed large in the background. Under urging from Hensley, Stickem Buck was able to track down Swan On One in the final strides of the mile to win by a nose. Slightly dismissed at the windows, Stickem Buck returned $12.60 at to his backers.
From the first crop of Big Stick Lindy, Stickem Buck is trained by Roger Welch and owned by William C. Delong and William P. Delong. Stickem Buck has now earned $42,500 from two career starts.
On the pacing side of the two-year-old stakes action, Hoosier Park’s leading driver Trace Tetrick doubled up in both the two-year-old pacing filly final and two-year-old pacing colt final. First, Tetrick guided Flight Cancelled to her second consecutive win as a freshman in the $75,000 pacing filly final with a final time of 1:55.
Leaving from the trailing post ten, Flight Cancelled was eased off the gate and settled along the rail in fifth while HeyHey Mahanah and Peter Wrenn carved out first-half fractions of :28.4 and :57.4. Approaching the final turn, Tetrick gave his mount the green light and she reached the leader’s wheel at the third station in 1:26.
As the field turned for home, the top pair was neck and neck but Flight Cancelled wasn’t finished. Using a :28.3 final panel, Flight Cancelled was able to wear down HeyHey Mahanah late in the lane to grind out the victory. As the betting publics’ second choice, Flight Cancelled returned $13.00 for the victory.
Trained by Steve Carter, Flight Cancelled remains undefeated at two for owners Steve and Tammy Carter. The daughter of Panspacificflight-Goa BB now sports a career bankroll of $37,500 from two lifetime outings.
Just a few races later, Tetrick continued his winning ways and scored with Tom Simmon’s Kelly D in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for two-year-old pacing colts in 1:52.4. Kelly D remains undefeated at two and equaled the national’s season mark for two-year-old pacing colts with the win.
Kelly D left aggressively from post two to get the first call in :27.4 but quickly yielded the lead to Harfo Hanover and Ed Hensley. Harfo Hanover led the way through the middle splits of :56.3 and 1:25.2 before feeling pressure on the outside from Camturo Rock and Dave Magee.
Harfo Hanover was able to put away Camturo Rock and dug in gamely down the lane but could not hold off Kelly D who exploded from the pocket. With a final quarter in :27, Kelly D finished two lengths in front of the hard-charging Toni’s Affection and Sam Widger. As the publics’ third choice, Kelly D returned $7.40 at the betting windows.
The homebred son of Panspacificflight-U Olive is owned by Larry Breed and has won all three of his lifetime outings. Kelly D now sports a career bankroll of $51,525.
Tetrick also scored with Brian Brown’s Color’s A Virgin in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for three-year-old pacing fillies and Scott Galloway’s Double A Cash Hall in the $75,000 Indiana Sires Stakes final for three-year-old trotting colts. His first win of the night came in the $25,000 consolation for two-year-old pacing fillies with Do U Mind for trainer Brian Brown.
Natural Herbie, with Verlin Yoder at the lines, shattered a nine-year-old track record for older trotting geldings when he powered home a winner in 1:52.4 in the featured event of the evening, a $22,000 Invitational trot, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, June 21. The previous record of 1:53 was established by Hesza Laser and David Miller in 2005 and equaled last week in the very same event by Penn and Brad Hanners.
The 1:52.4 score by Natural Herbie was just a fifth of a second off the overall trotting track record, a 1:52.3 mark that was established by Uncle Peter and David Miller in the $200,00 Centaur Trotting Classic last season. The time also marked the fifth track record that has been equaled or lowered over Hoosier Park’s seven-eighths mile oval in 2014.
Leaving from post three, Natural Herbie was unhurried off the gate and settled along the rail in third. Summer Indian and Ricky Macomber Jr. fired from the gate and landed on top through an opening panel in a snappy :26.4. Somebody As and Ross Leonard benefitted from a pocket trip while Banker Volo followed intently in third. Summer Indian continued to call the shots at the second station in :56.3 but would quickly be joined by Natural Herbie on the outside.
Reaching the three-quarter mark in 1:25.1, Natural Herbie had already started his first-over attack and was able to wear down the tiring leader in the final turn. Penn was well placed second over but was no match for Natural Herbie who was strong on the front.
Turning for home, Yoder asked his mount for more and Natural Herbie found another gear. Using a :27.3 final panel, Natural Herbie put his talent on display and trotted away from the field, finishing four lengths in front of his competitors. Somebody As trotted evenly to finish second while Penn rounded out the trifecta. As the 3-1 choice, Natural Herbie returned $8.20 to his backers at the window.
An Indiana Sires Stakes Champion at both two and three, Natural Herbie is in the midst of another stellar campaign. The four-year-old gelding bested his lifetime mark by a full second with the 1:52.4 score. Sired by Here Comes Herbie, the black gelding has now won four of 11 seasonal starts while bankrolling over $45,960 for owner, trainer, driver Verlin Yoder in 2014. Sporting a career bankroll of $435,441, Natural Herbie has hit the board in 16 of 35 lifetime outings.
Ritascape and LeWayne Miller pulled off a stunning upset in the featured event of the evening, a $22,000 Fillies and Mares Invitational Pace, at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, June 13. As the longest shot on the board, Ritascape used a perfect pocket trip to score her sixth win of the season and established a new lifetime best of 1:51.3 in the process
Leaving from post two in the field of six, Ritascape was hustled away from the gate just enough to protect her inside position. American Girl and Tyler Smith fired from the gate and were the first to get a call at the first station in a :27.2. Ritascape followed intently in second while last week’s winner, Mach Me Not and Sam Widger, were next in line in third. Widger gave Mach Me Not the green light down the backside and American Girl yielded the lead through a second panel in :56.
No Respect and Trace Tetrick were the first to commit to the outer flow as the field approached the final turn and Igottafeelinfran and Brad Hanners quickly followed suit and joined the outer flow. Mach Me Not reached the three-quarter clocking in 1:24.2 and braced herself for the long Hoosier Park stretch.
American Girl tipped from the pocket and took aim at the leader while Ritascape found racing room up the rail. Using a :26.3 last quarter, Ritascape charged down the lane and was able to finish a length in front of Mach Me Not at the wire. Mach Me Not held on for second place honors while American Girl battled gamely to round out the trifecta. Dismissed at 14-1, Ritascape returned $30.80 to her backers at the window.
“It was a great trip for her tonight,” Miller noted after the win. “The last couple weeks the race just didn’t work out for us for one reason or another. Tonight, she was really sharp and the trip went our way. I knew coming around the last turn if I could get room down the lane she would be good.”
Trained by Homer Hochstetler, Ritascape has now won 12 of her 25 lifetime outings while amassing $159,004 for her connections. The daughter of Artiscape-Rita J is owned by Connie and Homer Hochstetler and South of The Tracks Rac Inc. and has won six of 12 outings in 2014.
Live racing at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Saturday, June 14 with a 14-race card highlighted by the $22,000 Invitational Trot and Pace. Live racing at Hoosier Park 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 be conducted through November 15.
Ricky Macomber Jr. made Hoosier Park history on Friday, May 30 as he became the all-time leading driver, by wins, with 1,240 career victories at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. It was a driving triple on the evening for the 43-year-old reinsman and a night to remember as he surpassed Don Irvine Jr. on Hoosier Park’s all-time leading driver list in their 21-year history of harness racing.
The victory with Hoosier Chinna in the evening’s sixth race, number 2,530 in Macomber’s career, tied him with Don Irvine Jr. for the top spot at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. After he guided A True Smerk to victory in Indiana Sires Stakes action just two races later, Macomber moved into the lead on the all-time leading driver standings with 1,239 trips to the Hoosier Park winner’s circle.
Macomber then went on to secure his position atop the list and won with Ahlbback Yankee in the very next race leaving him with 1,240 victories at Hoosier Park and counting.
All three of Macomber’s victories on the evening came from Hoosier Park’s leading conditioner, Ron Burke. Burke, who has won the leading trainer title at Hoosier Park for the past two seasons, currently leads all trainers with 27 wins while Macomber is fifth in the 2014 driver standings.
Raised in South Florida by a family rich in harness racing tradition, Macomber won his first race at Pompano Park in the spring of 1997 and never looked back. A few years later, he and his father, Dick, an accomplished horseman since the early 1970’s, ventured to Indiana with hopes of starting a new path to success. The Midwest move has paid off.
Macomber earned his first Hoosier Park driving title in 2007 and has finished among the top ten leading drivers nearly every year to date. He has multiple stakes wins to his credit including winning Hoosier Park’s signature race, the $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational, twice. He guided Royalflush Hanover to victory in the 2000 Dan Patch Invitational and returned to the winner’s circle in the 2002 Dan Patch Invitational behind E Dee’s Cam. Macomber finished second with Fred and Ginger in the 2013 installment of Hoosier Park’s most prestigious race.
Macomber is also part of the “Champions for Charity” promotion at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, a group of drivers selected to help promote the sport of harness racing through their unique personalities, life stories and sportsmanship. At the start of the season, each driver personally selected a charitable organization to support with fundraising efforts throughout the year. Macomber raises funds through his charitable work for the Indiana School for the Deaf, giving back to a cause that holds a special meaning to him.
“On behalf of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, I’d like to congratulate Ricky on his accomplishment,” Hoosier Park’s Vice President and General Manager of Racing, Rick Moore noted. “And quite an accomplishment it is. Through his work with our Champions for Charity promotion, his professionalism, and attitude, Ricky is a great ambassador for our sport. We wish Ricky 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.”
The 2014 stakes season is set to get underway at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Wednesday, May 28 as four divisions of $20,000 Indiana Sires Stakes races showcase the top three-year-old trotting fillies in the state.
Revamped for the 2014 live racing season, Hoosier Park will debut a new and improved Indiana Sires Stakes format approved by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission last year. The 2014 Indiana Sires Stakes program will feature five legs throughout the season, and from each leg, the top 20 horses will return to compete in a final and consolation. The stakes program will culminate with the top ten horses from each of the previous finals returning to compete in a $200,000 Super Final on October 18 at Hoosier Park.
“The new Indiana Sires Stakes format is a very positive change for our program,” Hoosier Park’s Director of Racing and Racing Secretary, Scott Peine noted. “It provides flexibility in the scheduling and having multiple eliminations for the $75,000 finals will produce very competitive races.”
“The Indiana Sired program continues to get better each and every year,” he continued. “This new format will allow Hoosier Park to showcase the best of the best in the $200,000 Super Finals. I am very much looking forward to this season of stakes action.”
The three-year-old trotting fillies will kick off the Indiana Sires Stakes action on Wednesday, May 28 with the three-year-old trotting colts highlighting the 14-race card schedule for Thursday, May 29. The three-year-old pacing fillies will take to the track on Friday, May 30 and the three-year-old pacing colts will follow suit on Saturday, May 31.
The first of five $75,000 Indiana Sire Stakes finals, tagged as Hoosier Champions Night, is scheduled for Saturday, June 7 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. 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.