By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
Tourism has become big business in Madison County and Hoosier Park Racing & Casino is the star attraction.
That’s the conclusion of a recent report from the Anderson/Madison County Visitors & Convention Bureau, which looked at the economic impact of the tourism and travel industry here in 2008 and 2010.
Among the report’s key findings were that:
Tourism and travel contributed nearly $506 million to the local economy in 2010.
A total of 3,821 jobs exist here because of the industry.
Nearly one-third of them are high-wage earners, professionals, technicians, managers, sales and construction jobs.
Tourism-generated jobs provided more than $68.6 million in wages to Madison County workers in 2010, compared to $62.9 million in 2008.
More than 3.9 million people made Madison County a tourism destination in 2010, compared to 2.2 million in 2008, the year when the casino opened.
Tourism generated $22.9 million in revenue for county and municipal governments in 2010, compared to $14.8 million in 2008.
The report, prepared by Certec Inc., a market research company based in Versailles, Ky., concluded that “tourism impacts all sectors of the local economy.”
“The takeaway is that there has been an accelerated rate of change in tourism and its impact on economic development,” and George Vinson, incoming president of the visitors bureau board of directors.
Ralph Day, executive director of the visitors bureau, said the 2008 and 2010 study years were chosen specifically to look at the impact a casino would have at Hoosier Park.
“It has really made Anderson a destination,” Day said.
And Hoosier Park has been a terrific corporate citizen, he added.
Since the casino opened in June 2008, the complex has averaged 3.5 million visitors a year, said Grant D. Scharton, Hoosier Park’s director of public relations He also noted that the Indianapolis Business Journal has named it the Indianapolis area’s most popular tourist attraction.
“Hoosier Park Racing and Casino is very pleased with the response in the central Indiana region and the tourists who come and visit the casino,” he said.
Tourism and community amenities such as Hoosier Park are an essential component of economic development efforts, said Rob Sparks, executive director of the Corporation for Economic Development.
“I think that tourism is a really important part of branding our community,” he said.
The 2012 racing dates for Hoosier Park Racing & Casino are finalized by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. Standardbred racing returns Tuesday, March 27 and will conclude Saturday, July 14 while the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons begin Wednesday, Aug. 1 and runs through Saturday, Oct. 27.
The 19th season of Standardbred racing will offer 80 days of action Tuesday through Saturday. Post time each evening is slated for 5:30 p.m. Hoosier Park’s signature event, the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational Pace is set for Saturday, June 2. The 2012 season will conclude Saturday, July 14 featuring Hoosier Champions Night and finals of the Indiana Sires Stakes.
The combined Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet will offer 64 days of racing with one of those days dedicated solely to Quarter Horse action. Racing will be held Tuesday through Saturday each week with a post time of 5:30 p.m. each evening except Saturday when racing begins at 12:30 p.m.
The highlight of the 18th season of Thoroughbred racing will be the Grade II $500,000-added Indiana Derby Saturday, Oct. 6. The day will also feature other stakes races including the Grade II $200,000-added Indiana Oaks, the $100,000-added Michael G. Schaefer Mile, and the $100,000-added Mari Hulman George Stakes.
The 16th season of Quarter Horse racing will be highlighted with the second annual All-Quarter Horse Stakes Day Saturday, Oct. 13. Post time for the event begins at 12:30 p.m.
Hoosier Park was selected as one of 17 “super celebration sites” across the state that will act as a gathering place full of activities for those wanting to participate in the Super Bowl activities and be a welcome area for guests.
Buses will be providing transportation between area hotels and Hoosier Park — where the local activities are happening — and between Hoosier Park and downtown Indianapolis.
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Saturday night after our all Quarter Horse Racing Day the jockeys got together and did a little something special. JD Mitchner, Aron Hunt & Harold Collins are pictured here ready to participate in the Womanless Beauty Pageant some of the quarter horse jockeys competed in Saturday night at the QHRAI banquet.
The jockeys, dressed in drag, walked around with a boot asking for donations for Richard Gilliard. Gilliard was critically injured in a quarter horse race August 23rd, he continues in rehabilition to this date. To accompany the beauty pageant proceeds, stick horses were auctioned off to the highest bidder. Anyone who now owns a stick horse will pick a rider and participate in a “stick horse race” on Ladies Day Saturday, October 22nd.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino proudly supports the Disabled Jockey Fund in any way that we can. Horseshoes have also been sold on big racing days and all cash goes to the charity. Dale Huber donated the horse shoes to be decorated and Debbie Blaesing did an amazing job selling the horse shoes on Derby Day. She sold $420 worth of horse shoes that went directly to the charity.
The amount of time spend here at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on giving back to the community is truly inspiring. We will all be keeping Richard Gilliard and any other disabled jockey in our thoughts, and continue to do what we can to give back to those in need.
This Saturday, October 8th was our first ever all Quarter Horse racing day, and Hoosier Buddy took full advantage of the fun! Not only did he ride the mechanical bull, Buddy went to the jockey meet and greet, he clowned around with our rodeo clown and did some walking with our cowboy stilt walker. Our Wild West theme also had family fun day activities including a bouncy house, face painting and interactive games.
All afternoon you could see Hoosier Buddy making his rounds to all of our events. He really got excited when the mule race was going on because his girlfriend was in the race! Buddy’s girlfriend, Sarah got last place in the non-wagering mule race that took place after race 2.
All of our activities were coupled with an excellent racing card. There were three trials of the Miss Roxie Little Futurity, three trials of the Governor’s Stakes, race 10 was the Sterlie Bertram Final for $100,000 and the last race on the card was the Hoosier Park Classic Final also for $100,000!
The students are required to pass a written test, two workbooks and a barn test that includes demonstrating how to saddle, bridle, wrap legs and name different bits. All of the test are about horse racing which is different from what these students are used to.
Rachel McLaughlin, our telvision host interviewed one of the AQHA members, Abi Buckwalter. Buckwalter shows quarter horses in the AQHA, and commented on her experience here at Hooser Park.
“This is the first time I have ever been to a race track. The experience is amazing, I have never seen anything like this. It has been an amazing learning experience but I’d have to say my favorite part about it is seeing the versatility of the quarter horse.”
The participants have visited every part of the track; and talked to everyone involved in horse racing; from the jockeys to the audio visual department. These kids have really had the full Hoosier Park experience from their first day here on Wednesday. They have been a joy to have and an excellent addition to our all quarter horse racing day activities.
This year at our 17th running of the Indiana Derby we were lucky enough to have Pete Lurie from HRTV here to cover the race. Lurie is one of the popular on-air hosts of HRTV, a national horse racing channel on cable and satellite television.
This is the second year Lurie has joined us for the coverage of Hoosier Park’s Indiana Derby a Grade II event with a purse of $500,000. Pete was joined by our own track host Rachel McLaughlin for handicapping and interviews.
Lurie has been with HRTV since its inception in 2002. In addition to his duties at the all-horse racing channel, he also works at Farplex Park in California as their in-house host. While he was at Hoosier Park for Indiana Derby, HRTV did several cut-ins throughout the day for their live broadcast of racing across the nation. Lurie also did several participant interviews; a duty he shared with McLaughlin.
It was a pleasure having Pete Lurie here with us for Derby Day he was an excellent edition to our activities. He was and always is a joy to work with.
The number 4 horse, and favorite, Mack the Slew offered Hoosier Park fans an amazing performance in todays 11th Running of the Hillsdale Stakes. This 2 year old colt is an unexperienced horse but his past performance here at Hoosier Park on August 11th he won by 2 1/2 lengths. Today in this stakes race of 5 furlongs Mack The Slew was able to make his second win here at Hoosier. Thompson and Mack the Slew came into the last turn on the rail behind the number 3 & 3c. “Coming on the stretch and knowing he was a younger horse, I tried to break the center and couldn’t, so I had to make a move on the outside. I knew with him being so young he needed a a clear shot to win. Once we moved to the outside he really got into stride and I let him take it home,” said Thompson. This is Thompson 2nd stakes win this year. Mack the Slew and Thompson were clearly a combination for success in this 9 horse field with a total purse of $84,000.
In an eleven horse field jockey Christopher Emigh seemed to get off to a great start in Saturdays 7th race and 15th running of “The Brickyard Stakes”. Emight came out in second and held on to that position until the front stretch where he made his move and took the lead. Emigh picked up this mount earlier today “This is my first time riding this horse and the trainer told me that he can really run, so don’t give up on him. So I took the lead down the lane, and was hoping I could get to the wire as soon as possible,” said Emigh.
Terry Tompson captures the win in the 17th running of “The Merrillvill Stakes” Saturday, August 27. Thompson was riding Linda’s Lace who is the defending champ, and currently has 10 season victories. Linda’s Lace also has four stakes wins here at Hoosier Park. This is her first win of the season at Hoosier Park, her last start she was 2nd. “Last time she got a bad head bob, but this race was a little different. She’s usually does well with two turns. I let the other horses set the pace then on the front I made a move and rode it out.” Thompson said he anticipated her to do well in this race, and noticed the odds were looking a little different before he went off. “She’s a really great horse, and for her to pay 18.60 hopefully the gamblers got onto her,” said Thompson. Thompson came to the meet late but is making a name for himself as he is inthe top 10 leading jockeys. Clearly this jockey and horse combination is made for a win!