Full house watches first ever Exotic Animal Racing at Indiana Grand

Photo by Coady Photography

A full house of racing fans came out to Indiana Grand Saturday, July 24 to witness a first of its kind in the state of Indiana. The track hosted ostrich, camel and zebra racing during the third All-Quarter Horse Day for 2021.

Zebras were first to step onto the track. The four entrants were ridden by Indiana Grand jockeys and exercise riders with Amara Kranz scoring the win aboard Zebiscuit. Other entrants included Stripes with Francisco Quintero, Led Zeblin ridden by John Baker, and I’ll Be White Black ridden by Cristian Reyes. Kranz noted in a post-race interview this was a bucket list item for her to guide a Zebra in a race.

“They came out of the gate fast,” said Kranz, who is an exercise rider. “I’ve ridden some tough horses before but never a Zebra. I was just worried about hanging on.”

Four camels stepped into the starting gate next with Oh Camel Ye Faithful getting an early jump on the field and striding home to the win with Jockey Natasha Fritz aboard. Other entrants included Hump Day with John Baker, Drama Dairy with Cristian Reyes and Humpty Dumpty with Bennett Greely.

“I just held on with my knees and set up a little and shot him his head,” said Fritz. “And then I just yelled ‘ye ye ye’ the whole way.”

The final event placed five Ostriches in the starting gate. The birds started out of the gate and went all directions. Jose Ruiz was able to sit still and hold on as Emu-Ji ran the fastest to the finish line. Other entrants included Flightless Fred and Mandy Green, Ken the Kicker and Cristian Reyes, Ostri-Sized and Elias Vallejo and Two Toed Tony and German Rodriguez.

“I just held on and tried not to fall off,” said Ruiz.

Reyes, who rode in all three events, added, “It was really great. I didn’t know where the Ostrich was going. I just tried to stay on.”

The event was provided by Hedrick Promotions based in Nickerson, Kansas. The group travels all across the country each season to provide the Exotic Animal Racing at racetracks and special events. They are headed back to the farm before loading up next week and heading to Nevada for their next show.