Nine races will kick off the 13th season of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing Tuesday, April 21 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. A total of eight Thoroughbred races and one Quarter Horse race are scheduled for opening day, which begins at 2:05 p.m.
The feature of the day is the $34,000 Allowance Optional Claiming, carded as race seven. Cajun Spirit will be one of the horses to beat in the contest, coming into Indiana from Fair Grounds where he finished fifth in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby in his last outing. Unraced at two, the three-year-old son of Bernstein will make his fourth start of 2015 with Jockey Francisco Torres aboard for trainer Dallas Stewart.
After winning four of nine starts in 2014, Bourne Free will be one of the largest threats to Cajun Spirit for the win. Starting from the outside post 10, the four-year-old son of Don’t Get Mad makes his 2015 debut for Trainer Randy Klopp. Fernando De La Cruz, 2014 leading rider at Indiana Grand, will guide Bourne Free, who has recorded all 12 starts of his career at Indiana Grand.
Another event on the opening day racing program that will draw interest is the $38,000 Indiana Sired Allowance, carded as race five. A field of nine will go to post. Brother Jimmy Ray from the Tim Glyshaw barn returns to Indiana following four starts at Fair Grounds. The five-year-old son of Saintly Look, owned by breeder Paul Adkins, will seek his first win of the year from post two. Albin Jimenez, who recently won the Leading Rider title at Turfway Park, will be aboard Brother Jimmy Ray.
Another top contender in the field is I Like Beer, who starts from post three for trainer Ron Brown. The five-year-old son of Pass Rush is co-owned by Adkins and will be coupled with Brother Jimmy Ray, giving Adkins a strong shot to win the season opener. Jockey Israel Ocampo gets the call aboard I Like Beer, hoping to make his Indiana debut a winning one.
The celebration for the return of racing continues through Saturday, April 25 when Indiana Grand will host a special “Always Turned On” live racing event. Numerous promotions will be held throughout the night leading up to a fireworks show following the final race of the evening. First post for the night is at 6:05 p.m.
Indiana Grand will offer a new racing schedule in 2015, conducting racing Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons beginning at 2:05 p.m. Saturday night racing will begin at 6:05 p.m. and will be highlighted by numerous special events throughout the 120-day race meet, including the 21st running of the Grade II $500,000-added Indiana Derby set for Saturday, July 18. Joining the Derby on the card will be five other stakes races, including the Grade II $200,000-added Indiana Oaks.
A total of 38 stakes will be held during the season, with two new stakes kicking off the schedule Saturday, May 30 during Jockeys and Jeans Night. The $65,000 PDJF Overnight Stakes and the $65,000 Indy Star Overnight Stakes will complement the evening, which is dedicated to raising funds for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Now in its second year, Jockeys and Jeans will include appearances by more than a dozen Hall of Fame Jockeys, including the three living Triple Crown winning jockeys Ron Turcotte, Steve Cauthen and Jean Cruguet. All proceeds from the event will go directly to PDJF.
In addition to the Indiana Derby, the top turf stakes of the season, the Listed $200-000-added Centaur Stakes for three-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 three-year-old fillies on the turf, also a Listed stakes.
Live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing will be held through Saturday, Oct. 31. Thursday racing will be added Sept. 17.