Month: May 2016

Beach Cartel passed his first real test as an older Quarter Horse Saturday, May 28, and the four-year-old gelding passed with flying colors. Ridden by Rodney Prescott, the son of Escondido Beach turned in a commanding performance to win the eighth running of the $75,000 Born Runner Classic at Indiana Grand, the first Quarter Horse stakes of the 2016 racing season.

Starting from post one, Beach Cartel had a clean break from the gate and once he got a few strides into the race, he was unstoppable The grey Indiana bred Quarter Horse rallied home in a quick :19.969 seconds to win by one-half length. WH Design By Dash and Cristian Esqueda found a spot along the outside to close in for second over Chilled Six Pack and Harold Collins for third.

Trained by Randy Smith and owned by breeder Sheri Miller of Shipshewana, Ind., Beach Cartel is now eight for 11 in his career and has won his last four outings. He toppled over the $200,000 career earnings mark with his win in the Born Runner Classic.

“We were a little concerned about post one because there haven’t been any winners from post one yet this year,” said Smith. “But he (Beach Cartel) amazed us out of post one and got the win.”


After six weeks of competition, Diana Chaney was crowned the winner of the 007 Jock’s Agent Contest at Indiana Grand Saturday, May 28. The contest allowed players to choose two jockeys to represent from the local colony. They had five “fire” cards in which they could change jockeys as the contest progressed to try to earn as much money in their bankroll as possible. However, Chaney chose to stick with her initial two jockeys and prevailed in a late rush to the top to take home the top prize of $1,000.

“I chose (Albin) Jimenez and (Fernando) De La Cruz and stuck with them the whole time,” said Chaney. “I really like both of them and use them when I’m betting on races.”

A native of Shelbyville, Chaney is a longtime horseplayer. She attends the races every week at the track and plays in a lot of the free on-track contests offered to fans. She has won smaller amounts before, but this is the first grand prize she has won at Indiana Grand.

“I won the Sur-5-vor contest one time, but this is by far the biggest prize I have won,” said Chaney. “I have been going to the races since I was about five years old. My entire family used to go to Louisville Downs and Scioto Downs and other tracks when I was growing up. I actually like to handicap the harness a little better, but I like the Thoroughbreds too.”

Chaney joins several of her family members at the track each week to watch and wager on the horse races. She has five living brothers, each who share her passion for the sport. In fact, her brother, Lawrence Smothers, finished second in the contest in a tie with Greg Cook. Each player took home $300 for their second place finish.


It was the first test outside of Florida for Strong Composition and he proved he will be a major contender in the Indiana Stakes program for 2016. Ridden by Albin Jimenez, The three-year-old son of Mancini was a strong winner to win his first career stakes race in stakes record time in the fourth running of the $100,000-added Sagamore Sired Stakes Wednesday, May 25 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.

Starting from post eight, Strong Composition broke alertly and gained a stalking spot along the inside as Containment and Marcelino Pedroza set early fractions of :22.58 and :45.35 for the six furlong race. Derby Express and Malcolm Franklin chased the leaders early on and prepared for a move around the turn as they were joined by El Coco Loco and Eddie Perez in pursuit of the lead. Jimenez took an opportunity before the stretch to move Strong Composition to the outside so he would have a clear path to work with in the stretch.

Strong Composition found his stride as the field moved into the stretch. The chestnut colt rallied past his opponents with authority and opened up on the field to win by two lengths. Containment maintained his position for second over Derby Express, who held steady for third.

“I was able to jog this horse (Strong Composition) on Monday to get a little feel for him,” said Jimenez. “He’s a very nice horse. Tony told me in the paddock to try and stalk third or fourth and it worked out perfectly. We were able to move to the outside and he really excelled in the stretch.”


A new star emerged Wednesday, May 25 in the fourth running of the $100,000-added Swifty Sired Fillies Stakes at Indiana Grand. Peyton’s Pass, ridden by Fernando De La Cruz, rallied home in a new stakes record time of 1:10.54 for the win, her second straight at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.

Peyton’s Pass began her journey from the outside post eight in the stakes race. De La Cruz opted to lay off the early pace and allow Easy Victory and Albin Jimenez to show the way. A blistering first quarter time of :22.03 seconds was recorded as Easy Victory found pressure from Carmalley Chrome and Rodney Prescott along with Text N Ride and Francisco Torres, who stayed between horses until the final turn.

Carmalley Chrome obtained the lead in the turn and was in position for a strong stretch drive when Peyton’s Pass moved to the outside and began to make up ground. Peyton’s Pass had the lead for most of the stretch and crossed under the wire for the win by a margin of one and one-quarter lengths over My Erin and Marcelino Pedroza, who scooted up the inside to save ground for second. Carmalley Chrome was third in the six furlong event.


It came down to the final strides of the $47,000 Allowance event at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in race seven. Mister Pollard and Jon Court rallied hard in the stretch to get the third and final lead of the race for the win, which pushes Mister Pollard over the $500,000 career earnings mark.

Starting from post three in the power packed field of six, Mister Pollard did not use early speed from the gate. Bucchero and Marcelino Pedroza rushed out for the lead from the outside and were met with opposition by Grandpa Grumpy and Rodney Prescott along the inside. The two battled into the turn of the six furlong race before Bucchero cleared to the lead.

In the stretch, Bucchero drew away from the field, leaving Mister Pollard with a lot of ground to make up. However, the five-year-old son of Pollard’s Vision was up for the task. Court brought Mister Pollard to the outside and got his horse into another gear, rallying up for the win by one and one-quarter lengths over Bucchero. Sucess is Racing and Richard Bracho moved up for third. The time of the race was 1:08.76, the fastest of the meet thus far.

“When they hung up :21 (seconds) and change (for the first quarter), I felt a little better,” said Lauer on his chances for a win with Mister Pollard. “I didn’t know if he could win but I thought he’d be right there. He is just a neat little horse. He’s a stud but he is quiet. He stays here most of the time but we do turn him out occasionally so he can relax and graze a little.”

Mister Pollard paid $7.60, $3.80, $2.80 across the board. The win marked his eighth career trip to the winner’s circle for Mike Lauer, who bred and raised the stakes winner at his farm in Kentucky. The Indiana bred horse is owned by Jim and Scott Farrar, Mike Johnson’s Falcon Racing Stable and Penny Lauer. Mister Pollard now has more than $524,000 in career earnings with all but a little more than $50,000 recorded in races at Indiana Grand.


The Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) is hosting a series of breakfast events from May through August during the 2016 meet. The first of four “Grand Mornings at the Track” was held Saturday, May 21 featuring a look at the life of a jockey.

Rainy weather started the morning session but quickly subsided, allowing guests to take a trip to the Jockey’s Quarters to see the inner workings of what it takes to prepare for racing. Clerk of Scales Steve Cahill began the tour by explaining Trakus and how the battery packs are inserted into saddle pads to detect the horses’ positions during a race. The group then learned about changes for the race before moving back to the jockey’s locker room, seeing different types of equipment, from girths to various saddles. Cahill also showed guests of “Grand Mornings at the Track” the silks room and lounge area.

Indiana Grand’s all-time leading rider Rodney Prescott then took over with a look at the life of a jockey. Prescott explained his daily routine and how he approached each horse for each race as well as the equipment he uses.

“I’ve been riding for more than 20 years now,” said Prescott. “I enjoy it and have been fortunate during my career. “

The group then went into the paddock where the racehorse, Barat, winner of 16 career races and more than $250,000 in earnings, was standing by to be utilized for a saddling demonstration. Owned by Lesalene Pompell, Barat, now eight-years-old, was a perfect gentleman as Valet Joe Johnson and Trainer Mike Nance provided the demonstration, showing each component of the saddling process.


A fast closing filly and top Indiana two-year-old from 2015 were victorious in the two trials for the upcoming $75,000 Harley Greene Derby set for Saturday, June 4. Bella Estrella and Cristian Esqueda and Beach Bum Eddie ridden by Cesar Esqueda made it an “Esqueda Double” in the two trials held Friday, May 20 at Indiana Grand.

Bella Estrella drew the outside post seven in the seven-horse lineup for the first division of the Harley Greene Derby trials. The lightly raced three-year-old daughter of Way Down Town broke out of the gate toward the back and trailed the field as heavy hitters Megatron Harry and Rodney Prescott and My Louisiana Rod and Berkley Packer dominated the top two spots during the 350-yard dash. Midway through the race, Bella Estrella found another gear and began surging on the leaders, timing her move just right to secure the win by one-half length at the finish over My Louisiana Rod. Daybreak Dash and Shanley Jackson won the battle for third over Megatron Harry.

“This is the first time I have ridden her in a race,” said Cristian. “I worked her one time at home and she trained really well, but we didn’t think she would be able to go that far. She proved us wrong tonight.”

Owned by Almanza Gustavo Jr., the homebred Bella Estrella was making her first start at Indiana Grand and her fourth overall, starting three times over the winter at Hialeah. The Indiana sired filly is trained by Julio Almanza and was bred by Almanza’s brother, Rolando.


Rain has plagued the Central Indiana area for the past three weeks, moving several races off the turf course at Indiana Grand. However, the sun was out bright and the first turf race of the 2016 racing season was contested Wednesday, May 18, giving Divine Thunder and Jockey Malcolm Franklin the nod for the win.

A field of eight assembled on the turf course for the $34,000 Allowance event running five furlongs. Divine Thunder broke in mid pack and quickly retreated to the back as race favorite Flying Eagle and Leandro Goncalves quickly moved into the lead from the inside. There was constant pressure applied to the top spot of the tightly packed field with Rojo Mojo and Cory Orm sitting in second early on followed by Read the Cards and Ron Hisby three-wide in third.

The field became even more tightly packed around the turn and in the stretch, Dynamite Stick and Marcelino Pedroza took over the top spot. Divine Thunder was in full gear and began to chase down Dynamite Stick. The two matched each other stride for stride in the final steps of the race. Dynamite Stick was not giving up any ground. However, Divine Thunder got the head bob at the end to win by a nose in a time of :59.01. Andy Po Po and Richard Bracho rallied from the back to finish third.


Friday, May 20 will kick off the first of seven “Friday Night Warm Up” events sponsored by the Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA). The event will take place from 6-8PM in the Always Turned On tent and includes free pizza, free wagers and special events and contests. In addition, the first “Grand Morning at the Track” will take place the following morning from 9-11AM trackside.

The “Friday Night Warm Up” event is geared toward providing information and assistance to fans wanting to learn more about horse racing. The session will begin during the last part of the Friday afternoon racing program, which begins at 2:05 PM, and provide racing fans the opportunity to stop in and talk with members of HBPA as well as participate in special handicapping contests and learn the basics of wagering on horse racing.

Rachel McLaughlin, Indiana Grand’s on-air racing personality, will host the event along with members of HBPA. Free pizza will be provided in the tent and mix-master DJ Niko Flores will provide music to get the party started on select Fridays from May through September. Also, Bill Downes, Indiana Grand’s track announcer, will also assist guests with questions about handicapping.


By Nancy Holthus, paddock analyst

News typically occurs on the actual racetrack, but history was made on opening day of the 2016 meet at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino inside the walls of the jockeys’ quarters. Brittany Waugh, 31, became the first woman valet in the Hoosier state. The move to valet was just as much a surprise to her as anyone. While wintering at Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Fla., Indiana Grand’s Clerk of Scales Steve Cahill approached Waugh about the position for the upcoming 2016 meet.

“At first I thought he was kidding,” Waugh said, “I’d never heard of a female valet. But I figured I’d try something new. I knew what the job entailed since my boyfriend is a valet at Tampa. I went to the jock’s room with him on dark days and got to see firsthand what the job really entailed.”

For Cahill, this venture was something he had wanted to add for the past several years.

“I’ve been searching for a couple of years to find a female valet to come in,” Cahill said. “I’ve talked to some other women about it and gotten some lukewarm interest. I’d seen Brittany the last several years when she worked for Marvin Johnson and Randy Klopp, and I approached her this winter. She is so good with horses, her demeanor, her personality, everything about her. I’ve gotten nothing but great feedback.”

Waugh’s introduction to the equine world began during her youth on a farm in Whiting, Iowa. She showed horses in 4-H and was introduced to show jumping during high school. She attended college at William Woods University in Fulton, Mo., focusing on a degree in Equestrian Administration. That foundation led her to an internship at the Canterbury Park test barn in Shakopee, Minn. after her junior year. Upon graduation, she moved to Minnesota and also received her certified veterinarian technician license. Waugh worked at equine clinics during the year and at Canterbury Park, holding a variety of positions during the summer months.