Indiana Grand Racing & Casino has released its 2015 stakes schedule for the upcoming Thoroughbred meet. The schedule includes 37 stakes worth more than $4 million in purses for the 120-day race meet, which begins Tuesday, April 21.
Highlighting the 2015 stakes schedule is the 21st running of the Grade 2, $500,000-added Indiana Derby, which will move away from its traditional fall date to Saturday, July 18. The Indiana Derby is the state’s richest Thoroughbred race and will be complemented by four other stakes on the racing program, including the Grade 3, $200,000-added Indiana Oaks. The week leading up to Indiana Derby will feature seven stakes Wednesday, July 15 through Friday, July 17.
“We have been considering a date change for our Indiana Derby the past few years, mainly to avoid inclement weather, and we found the perfect spot in mid-July,” said Kevin Greely, director of racing. “By moving the Indiana Derby to the summer, it will give racing fans the opportunity to enjoy the race during warmer weather and it will also give Indiana Grand the opportunity to create a multi-day festival leading up to the big race. We have added an additional day of racing that week, and will offer more than $1.6 million in purses for 12 stakes over four days.”
In addition to Indiana Derby, the top turf stakes of the season, the listed $200-000-added Centaur Stakes for 3-year-olds will be run Wednesday, Sept. 9. The Centaur Stakes will be joined by three other stakes that day, including the $200,000-added Indiana Grand for 3-year-old fillies on the turf, also a listed stakes.
Indiana Grand will feature its first “Indiana Sprint Championship” Wednesday, Sept. 30, highlighted by six Indiana-bred or -sired stakes, all at a distance of six furlongs. The 120-day race meet will conclude Saturday, Oct. 31 with four stakes races highlighting the inaugural “Indiana Champions Night,” featuring the best state-bred horses of Indiana.
“We are really focusing on the quality of our stakes program and have added two new open stakes races to expand our 2015 schedule,” said Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing. “Once again, Wednesday afternoon will be the focus for most of our stakes races. This has proven to be a great spot for a national audience. In addition, it gives us the opportunity to draw entries from some top stables in the region, boosting the quality of our stakes as well as our overnight races.”
In all, 27 of the stakes will be run over the one-mile dirt course, with 10 stakes scheduled for the turf course. The first stakes race will be contested Saturday, May 30, which will help create a great atmosphere for the second annual “Jockeys and Jeans,” a fundraiser for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). The event will feature Ron Turcotte as the honorary chairman as well as the other two living Triple Crown winning jockeys Steve Cauthen and Jean Cruguet. In all, more than a dozen Hall of Fame riders are expected to be in attendance for the event, making it the largest gathering of racing legends ever assembled in the Midwest.
Live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing returns to Indiana Grand Tuesday, April 21. The 120-day race meet will be conducted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:05 p.m. with first post for Saturdays set at 6:05 p.m. Thursday racing will be added Sept. 17.