Stewart, Wrenn Win 2011 Titles
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino closed out its 18th season of Standardbred racing Saturday, July 16 with Hoosier Champions. The evening featured a 14-race card with purses in excess of $1.2 million, including finals of the Indiana Sires Stakes.
Hoosier Champions featured several Indiana stars as Matt Howard, basketball player for the NCAA championship Butler Bulldogs, was on hand for a meet and greet. Also, local celebrities climbed aboard double seated jog carts to raise money for the United Way of Madison County. Hoosier Park Racing & Casino CEO Jim Brown, assisted by driver Joe Putnam, won the seven-eighths mile dash over Jeff Freeman, who was representing the Anderson Fire Department, and driver Trace Tetrick. Kim Contos, representing the United Way of Madison County, finished a close third with the assistance of driver Jason Dillander.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Brown, who has been a horse racing enthusiast his entire life. “We came around that last turn, and I didn’t know if we were going to win it. Coming through the long stretch was really exciting. It was just like a real race to the wire.”
Brown won the exhibition race for charity by less than a length over Freeman. Contos was only a neck back in third for an exciting race to the wire.
The leading trainer for 2011 was Charlie Stewart, who led the standings from start to finish. Stewart, a native of Alexandria, Ind., conditioned 46 winners for the meet to earn the title. The 24-year-old also became the youngest trainer to ever accomplish that feat for any breed at Hoosier Park.
“I’ve had a lot of luck and a lot of good horses this meet,” said Stewart. “I’ve been very fortunate this year, but we’ve also put in a lot of hard work during this season. I’m hoping to continue this momentum and buy more horses.”
Stewart has fine tuned his skills in the claiming ranks. A majority of his wins came with claimers that he either brought up from Pompano Park after the winter meet or acquired during the 80-day meet at Hoosier Park.
In the driving ranks, Peter Wrenn earned his third straight Gregg Haston Leading Driver title by piloting 139 winners during the season, including six wins on the closing night program. A native of Michigan, Wrenn now resides in Carmel, Ind. and oversees a stable of horses with his wife, Melanie, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Wrenn has accumulated more than 8,600 career wins.
“I’ve had a lot of great trainers and a lot of hot owners backing me up this year,” said Wrenn. “I have to give a lot of credit to them, because I’m not always the easiest to deal with. It’s a great feeling to get the title again. I really like Hoosier Park and hate to leave.”
Wrenn’s biggest win of the night was a nose win with Flight Elal in the $200,000 Indiana Sires Final for three-year-old pacing colts. The matchup between Flight Elal and Paco Labrook, with Trace Tetrick driving, had been a long anticipated battle. The duo battled gamely in the stretch with Flight Elal getting the final edge in a time of 1:52.3. Lost Jewels and Ricky Macomber finished third.
The evening was also part of the national “Back to the Track” promotion. Numerous activities and giveaways took place, including a trip for two to the Little Brown Jug in September courtesy of the U.S. Trotting Association. Also, the Indiana Standardbred Association provided two $5 wagering vouchers to the first 500 fans along with gas card giveaways ranging from $20 to $500 throughout the evening.