Month: June 2016

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino will host the inaugural Indiana Derby pageant where contestants will compete for the title of Indiana Derby Queen and be crowned on Saturday, July 16 during the Indiana Derby.


Eleven contestants will vie for the inaugural Indiana Derby Queen Pageant title. The preliminary round Thursday, June 30 will narrow the field to five and the queen will be crowned on Indiana Derby Night Saturday, July 16.

The preliminary pageant, which will take place at Indiana Grand on Thursday, June 30 beginning at 6 p.m., will welcome 11 contestants from throughout Indiana. The top five contestants will be named to the official Indiana Derby Court, with one being crowned Queen of the Indiana Derby.

Preliminary Indiana Derby pageant tickets are $10 and will be available the day of the show. Half of all ticket sales will go to SCUFFY (Shelby County United Fund For You). Additionally, $5 in free slot play will be given out with each ticket for those 21 years of age and older.

The Indiana Derby Queen will be crowned at the inaugural Indiana Derby Pageant on Saturday, July 16, 2016 and receive a check for $5,000. The crowning will take place during the 22nd Running of the Grade II $500,000-added Indiana Derby.


She may not have won, or even hit the board, but the journey for First Class Chic in Race 11 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino Tuesday, June 28 marked a victory. First Class Chic and owners Donna Gerard and Carter Riley were all making their first start back after a horrific head-on collision on Route 9 south of Greenfield, Ind.

Gerard and Riley had driven to Indiana Grand the morning of Oct. 5, 2015 for their normal training routine and loaded up to head home to their farm in Mechanicsburg, Ind., about an hour north of the track. On the trip home, Carter was driving the truck and trailer when a car, for unknown reasons, crossed the center line, hitting them head-on and knocking them down a hill. Riley was hurt the worst, suffering a broken back in nine places, a broken neck, numerous broken ribs and a crushed foot. Gerard suffered a broken arm and the then two-year-old filly in the trailer had cuts and swelling in several portions of her body. Luckily for First Class Chic, the trailer stayed upright and didn’t overturn. Both she and Riley had to be extracted from the truck and trailer by the “Jaws of Life.”

Riley, who has long been a guiding force in Indiana Quarter Horse racing, recovered as did Gerard. Their filly, a homebred daughter of First to Shake Six out of Classy Chic in Vegas, was the last to get the okay.



Indiana Grand Racing & Casino was the sponsor of “Movie in the Park” Friday, June 24 at Morrison Park in Shelbyville. The featured movie was “Secretariat,” the Disney movie on the career of the famous racehorse from the 1970s. Local retired jockey Otto Thorwarth, who played Ron Turcotte in the movie, made a guest appearance before the movie to sign autographs and later talked about the experience with movie goers prior to the start of “Secretariat.”

“I was fortunate to ride for over 20 years and then capped off my career by riding ‘Secretariat,’” said Thorwarth about his experience in being in the movie. “They had cast everyone for the movie except for the jockey part. The director wanted the racing scenes in the movie to be authentic, so he said ‘if you can’t find an actor to play a jockey, then find me a jockey that can act.’ They did a casting call in Lexington and I went down. There were over 750 jockeys that tried out for the part and I got it. I’d never done any acting before, but it was a fantastic experience.”

Thorwarth, who is a native of Arkansas, retired when he began working on the movie. He explained the movie was shot over four months and at three locations, including Keeneland, Churchill Downs and the majority of the movie was filmed in Lafayette, Louisiana because the state of Louisiana gives big tax breaks to movie companies. He explained that is why so many movies are filmed there.


Three trials were held Saturday, June 25 to set up the $50,000 final of the Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby, which will be held Saturday, July 9, the next all-Quarter Horse night at Indiana Grand. TF Jess a Leader and Jose Beltran turned in the quickest time of the trials to sit atop the leader board heading into the final.

Starting from post seven in the eight-horse field, TF Jess a Leader was able to capitalize on a clean start while several horses on the inside got caught up in tight quarters. The three-year-old son of Mr Jess Perry kept his focus through the 400-yard dash and was able to get to the wire first in a time of :19.810 seconds. Captain BD and Jose Davila finished three-quarters of a length back in second followed by BP Tres Seis Policy and Rodney Prescott for third.

TF Jess a Leader was the second winner on the program for Trainer Sacramento Chavez, who was also a winner with Mavara Vegas in the Indiana Grand Classic. TF Jess a Leader is owned by Jose Chavez. The Louisiana bred gelding won his first race of 2016 in his third outing, and the win marked only his second career trip to the winner’s circle.

TF Jess a Leader, a longshot in the field, paid $39.20, $15.00 and $5.80 across the board.


Mavara Vegas was tough to beat at Indiana Grand last year as a three-year-old. She returned for her first start in Indiana for 2016 and was even tougher, winning the sixth running of the $49,680 Indiana Grand Classic running at a distance of 400 yards Saturday, June 25.

Starting from post two, Mavara Vegas and Jockey Alejandro Luna had a good start and was in the action early, holding their own on the inside as the field got rolling. Halfway through the race, the chestnut daughter of FDD Dynasty began to get more aggressive and began to pull away, reaching the finish line by one length over Scandalia and Rolando Pina along the inside. A Royal Fling and Omar Reyes rounded out the trifecta.

“After Indiana last fall, we took her (Mavara Vegas) to Florida and she got injured,” said Trainer Sacramento Chavez. “It took us the whole meet to get her back and she didn’t run well there. But she’s one of those types that is born to run. She’s very happy when she goes out to the track. In fact, she’s mean in the stall and very tough to work with. She just likes to work and loves to run.”


Sassy Miss Officer and Jockey Leandro Goncalves sprinted home to easily win the ninth running of the $100,000-added Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Fillies Stakes at Indiana Grand Wednesday, June 22. The stakes race for three-year-old registered Indiana bred fillies was reflective of the purse increase to $100,000 for all Indiana stakes beginning in 2016.

Starting from post four, Sassy Miss Officer had no intentions of showing early speed as Tequila and Salt and Francisco Torres held their ground inside and found an immediate challenge from race favorite Carmalley Chrome and Rodney Prescott into the first turn. The two fillies hooked up early on the front and turned in blazing fractions of :22.90 and :45.64, moving away from the rest of the field by up to 10 lengths at times. As the field moved into the final turn, the gap began to close and Sassy Miss Officer was the first to catch the top two. Her momentum kept her game on the outside until the stretch arrived over the rain soaked track.

At the head of the lane, Goncalves asked the filly to advance and she took off from the field, roaring to an 18 ½ length victory at the wire. Tequila and Salt was a head winner for second over My Erin and Marcelino Pedroza. The final time of the race was 1:45.29.


Badabing Badaboom and Jockey Marcelino Pedroza appeared from the back of the pack in the stretch and never looked back, rallying home to a five and three-quarter length win in the ninth running of the $100,000 Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes Wednesday, June 22 at Indiana Grand.

Starting from post eight, Pedroza has gotten to know Badabing Badaboom well this spring, riding him in three of his four previous starts. Therefore, early speed from the gate was not an option in the one and one-sixteenth mile event over the muddy track. Derby Express and Malcolm Franklin showed early speed from the center of the track while Mr. Manning and Leandro Goncalves held their own along the rail and Sights and Sounds with Francisco Torres aboard joined the early fray into the first turn. Mr Manning and Sights and Sounds matched each other stride for stride early on with fractions of :23.43 and :46.49 were placed on the board. Neither horse was giving in easily and held their positioning around the final turn. Badabing Badaboom began making forward movement down the backstretch but it wasn’t until the stretch that his momentum took over.

Badabing Badaboom went right by the top horses and never looked back, coasting to an easy win over the rest of the field. Mr Manning held on for second over a close photo with Grand Ginjo and Fernando De La Cruz, who moved up the inside to secure third.


A total of 39 jockeys will compete for their home countries in the third annual World Jockey Challenge slated for Saturday, June 25 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. The jockeys will compete in their regularly scheduled races with hopes of bringing in accumulative points for their home countries.

There are 10 countries represented in this year’s event, including Brazil, Panama, Cuba, Peru, Mexico, Italy, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Ireland and the United States. Mexico has the biggest representation with 17 riders hailing from that country followed by the United States, which has 10 jockeys on the team. Several of the countries only have one representative, but last year’s event was won by Panama, which only had two jockeys Albin Jimenez and Abel Lezcano who combined for three wins on the card and several seconds and thirds. The United States team was the inaugural winner in 2014.

The final outcome of the World Jockey Challenge is all dependent on finishes during the night, with first place receiving 10 points, second place awarded five points, third place pulling in three points and fourth place granted one point. One of the differences in this year’s contest is the number of races and the largest number of jockeys to compete on the International Fest card. Also, four of the 12 races are Quarter Horse races programmed as the last four races, which is unique for the event.


Indiana Grand Racing & Casino is hosting a one-day qualifier to send three people to the NTRA/DRF National Handicapping Championships (NHC) to be held in Las Vegas at Treasure Island Jan. 27 – 29, 2017. The local qualifier is set for Saturday, Aug. 20 and entries into the contest began Tuesday, June 21.

The qualifier at Indiana Grand has an entry fee of $175 and is limited to 125 entries. Players may purchase up to two entries per person. The contest begins at approximately 4 p.m. the day of the event and will feature racing from the latter part of the card at Saratoga, Del Mar and five mandatory races from Indiana Grand, concluding at approximately 9:30 p.m. A win payoff cap has been put in place of 20-1 and a place payoff cap of 10-1 will also be utilized.

Players competing in the local qualifier will receive exclusive seating, buffet and soft drinks, a t-shirt, Daily Racing Forms, programs and will also be eligible for NHC Tour points provided by the NTRA/DRF contest organization rules. In addition, the top three players advancing to the finals will receive airfare and accommodations to Las Vegas. Food and other travel expenses are not included in the trip to Las Vegas.

A block of rooms has been set aside at the Holiday Inn Express in Shelbyville for a special rate for players in the NHC for the weekend of the contest. Players should request the special rate with the NHC code when booking a room.


An outside post proved to be the perfect place for DNA Dales Prospect to display his talents on the track at Indiana Grand Saturday, June 18. The two-year-old Coronas Prospect gelding roared to the lead in the late stages to take the top prize in the $130,600 Jaguar Rocket Futurity.

Ridden by Berkley Packer, DNA Dales Prospect broke without incident and was amongst the pack as the field of nine moved through the early stages of the 300 yard dash. Halfway through the race, it appeared DNA Dales Prospect extended his stride and kicked into gear for a strong finish, running down CB Come Fly With Me and Rolando Pina by a neck at the finish line. Chics Dirty Secret and Rodney Prescott was one-half length back in third. DNA Dales Prospect covered the distance in a time of :15.681 seconds.

“He (DNA Dales Prospect) got the lead about 100 yards in,” said Packer, who was aboard for the first time. “He ran a big race tonight.”

DNA Dales Prospect was making only his second career start. He was a winner in his Jaguar Rocket trial to place himself as the favorite of the field, paying $6.00, $3.80, $2.60 across the board. DNA Dales Prospect is owned by Donna and Noel Alexander’s DNA Quarter Horses of Central Illinois. Randy Smith, Indiana Grand’s leading trainer for the third straight season, conditions the horse for the Alexanders.