Once again, the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational will be the highlight of the 2013 harness racing season at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday, May 25. Now in its’ 20th edition, the Dan Patch Invitational pace is the one time of the year that the top rated horses in North America convene on Hoosier Park’s seven-eighths mile oval seeking a lucrative $200,000 purse and a spot in Hoosier Park’s history.
Hoosier Park’s signature harness racing event 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.
Kevin Mack, Hoosier Park’s racing secretary, inherits the responsibility of recruiting the best horses to compete in the event every year. Mack begins making his list of potential contenders for one of the ten coveted invitations to the Dan Patch many weeks in advance. After much consideration, ten horses, including a signature “Hometown Hero” chosen from the local area, will receive the official invitation to compete in Hoosier Park’s signature harness racing attraction.
The 2013 installment will tout some of the best horses, trainers and drivers in the sport. Patrons can potentially expect to see talents like Levy Memorial Pacing Series champion, Razzle Dazzle, Meadowlands Pace champion A Rocknroll Dance and perhaps 2012’s victor, Rockin Cam lined up behind the gate for the 2013 edition.
“We are looking at what may be the most competitive field to date in the 2013 edition of this great race,” Mack noted. “We haven’t officially decided, but the horses we are looking to invite are evenly matched and that makes for great racing. We are constantly striving to improve our harness racing product in Indiana and the Dan Patch is a race that does that by shining the spotlight on Indiana Standardbred racing on to the national scene.”
Several activities will be held trackside to complement the Dan Patch Invitational pace, including Indiana sire stakes action, property-wide dining specials, special wagering opportunities and exciting entertainment throughout the entire evening.
Racing fans will have the opportunity to participate in two special wagering opportunities offered for the Dan Patch Invitational race. A $25,000 guaranteed Superfecta pool for the Dan Patch race will once again be available as part of the special Strategic Wagering Program through the United States Trotting Association and Hoosier Park partnership. Hoosier Park will also offer a $10,000-guaranteed pick-4 pool that will include the Dan Patch race as a leg of the wager.
The stage is set for a whole new chapter in Hoosier Park racing with the advent of one breed, one track. The 20th season of live racing consists of 160 days of all harness racing and will commence with an action-packed twelve race card.
With more than 120 entries flooding the box for opening night, the card will feature four legs of the Miss Windfall Series. With three $7,500 legs and a $15,000 final, the series is open to three and four-year-old, Indiana-sired, fillies and mares that are non-winners of $7,500, lifetime.
The start of the meet marks the commencement of many exciting promotions geared to both casual and serious racing fans. The opening week of live racing, labeled “fan appreciation week”, is all about the fans. Hoosier Park, in partnership with the Indiana Standardbred Association, will be offering dining specials, wagering vouchers, and an iPad mini giveaway. Patrons are also encouraged to enter the handicapping contests that will be taking place weekly throughout the entirety of the meet.
Fridays at Hoosier Park, dubbed “Fan-tastic Fridays”, will feature $1 beers, $1 hot dogs and $1 live racing programs starting at 5 p.m. In addition, guests will be welcomed to enter the ‘Beat the Big Guy’ promotion for a chance to win up to $500.
Building on the successful “Family-Fun” themed activities and events started last season, Hoosier Park will continue “Family Fun Saturdays”. Activities will include a bounce house, face painting, jugglers, live entertainment, games and winner’s circle giveaways. The official Hoosier Park mascot, Hoosier Buddy, will be on hand to entertain and excite.
On the track, the racing competition is starting to take shape with the return of 2012’s leading driver champion, Trace Tetrick. Tetrick took home top honors at Hoosier Park in 2012 with 153 trips to the winner’s circle and is back seeking his second leading title. Hoosier Park’s two time leading trainer and North America’s current leading trainer, Ron Burke has also returned to Indiana with a powerhouse stable headed by assistant trainer, Jamie Rucker. The Burke stable amassed over $655,000 in purse earnings in 2012 with 46 wins, twice his closest competitor.
North America’s fastest pacers will return to the Anderson track on Saturday, May 25th for the 20th installment of the Dan Patch Invitational Pace. Hoosier Park’s signature event touts a purse of $250,000 and will be accompanied by many exciting promotions for racing fans.
“I can’t wait to get this season kicked off,” said Rick Moore, Hoosier Park’s general manager of racing. “Here at Hoosier Park we pride ourselves on bringing our guests the best in entertainment we can offer. Our dedicated team has worked hard in the off season to “set a new standard”. I hope our guests will enjoy all the excitement as much as we enjoy bringing it to them.”
Hoosier Park will follow a Tuesday through Saturday live racing schedule through November 9, with a 5:30, eastern post time daily.
Emily Gaskin has joined the team at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. Gaskin has assumed the duties of racing publicist and executive assistant to Brian Elmore, general manager of racing.
A resident of Pendleton, Ind., Gaskin graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in agricultural communication. During her time at UK, she worked as an intern for the Horsemen and Fair World. Most recently, Gaskin served as a reporter for Harness Racing Update.
Gaskin has an extensive background in harness racing. Her family, Ernie and Darla Gaskin, have been longtime participants in the sport and currently own and operate Crimson Lane, a training center just south of Hoosier Park.
“Emily will serve Hoosier Park in a variety of positions,” said Elmore. “In addition to her duties as racing publicist and administrative assistant for the racing department, she will assist with the race marketing and promotions. Her enthusiasm for racing, passion for the equine athlete, and overall appreciation of Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will make her a great addition to the Hoosier Park Team.”
Gaskin has owned a number of Standardbreds over the years that have competed at Hoosier Park. She most recently experienced success with Jammin Joshua, an Indiana Sires Stakes winner as a two-year-old last season who won six of 11 starts.
Gaskin is preparing for the upcoming 2012 Standardbred season, which gets underway Tuesday, March 27. The 80-day race meet will run through Saturday, July 14, offering racing Tuesday through Saturday. Post time is 5:30 p.m. EST.
For more information on Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, log onto www.hoosierpark.com.
Peter Wrenn completed a three-peat last season, earning his third straight leading driver title at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. He has established himself as the “go-to guy” for several of the top contenders in stakes races and brings in a wealth of experience and success, not only on the local scene, but on a national level. Wrenn has wins in Breeders’ Cup action and has competed in almost every major race to date. The Michigan native is back at Hoosier Park again this year seeking to pick up where he left off.
With more than 8,700 career wins, Wrenn recorded 311 wins for the year in 2011, most of which were accumulated between Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs. He and his wife, Melanie, now reside in Carmel, Ind. with their children. For the most part, winter months are spent in Indiana preparing for the upcoming season. They currently have five horses in training at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and will have a couple of three-year-olds ready to race when the meet gets underway Tuesday, March 27. Wrenn is ready to get back to work.
“I am pawing at the door to get back racing,” said Wrenn. “I am more than looking forward to getting back to competition. Last winter, I raced a little Chicago and a little Cleveland, but haven’t done any competitive work since Dec. 15. I try to get mentally prepared and I work out and keep in shape. I am really, really ready to race and get back into competing.”
Wrenn earned 138 wins last year to move up the ladder of all-time leading drivers at Hoosier Park. He now has 513 wins in only four full years of competition to rank sixth on the list. Wrenn returns seeking his fourth straight title at Hoosier Park. Don Irvine Jr. continues to hold the record for most titles every won by a driver, trainer, or jockey with six.
Once again in 2011, Wrenn was spotted behind several top contenders in stakes action, including Next Flight In, Flight Elal, and Why Baby Why, all of which were winners during Hoosier Champions Night. Wrenn was once again honored as Indiana’s top pari-mutuel driver for 2011.
“I was lucky enough to drive a lot of good ones last year,” said Wrenn. “Some of them didn’t finish up the year as expected, but I’m excited to see them return this year. Hopefully, they will have matured up, sounded up, and will come back good. There are a lot of good connections and good people that I drive for. I’m really ready for opening night.”
Known as “The Wolf” in the popular Celebrity Standardbred Driver promotion, Wrenn will be joined by other top five drivers from 2011 including Trace Tetrick, Sam Widger, Ricky Macomber Jr., and Dave Magee. Tetrick has been racing at Windsor Raceway all winter while Macomber has driven at Pompano Park and Magee and Widger can be found on the Chicago circuit. All drivers have proven track records for success in the state of Indiana.
Competition gets underway for the 80-day meet Tuesday, March 27 and runs through Saturday, July 14. Racing will be conducted Tuesday through Saturday with a first post of 5:30 p.m. EST. For more information about the upcoming season, log onto www.hoosierpark.com.