Next Stop: Indiana Derby

The Indiana Derby is one month away and plans are already in the works for the 22nd running of the Grade II $500,000-added event that draws some of the best three-year-olds in the country to Central Indiana. Owners and trainers interested in running their horse in the Indiana Derby have to go through several steps before race day, and that process begins Friday, July 1.

Trainers are already looking at their options for the next start of their horses, and the Indiana Derby has great placement in the middle of July. Therefore, phone calls and workouts to prepare for a start in the Indiana Derby are already underway.

There is no nomination fee to get onto the list of potential starters for the Indiana Derby, but a horse must be nominated to the event by Friday, July 1. At that time, the racing office at Indiana Grand begins compiling a list of owners and trainers that have shown interest in the race, and normally the nomination list will contain more than 50 horses. With only 12 spots available in the starting gate for the Indiana Derby, the racing office begins contacting the best horses on the nomination list to create the final field for the post position draw Wednesday, July 13.

If more than 12 horses commit to running in the Indiana Derby, then the list is once again narrowed down. Horses that are Grade I, or Group 1 winners, as they call them overseas, get first preference followed by horses that are Grade I or Group I place finishers, meaning they finished in the top three of a Grade 1 stakes race. From there, the field is analyzed by Grade or Group II winners and Grade or Group III winners and/or horses who are stakes placed in one of those categories.

If there are still more than 12 horses left vying for the 12 starting positions of the Indiana Derby, highest lifetime earnings determine the final field for the race, Indiana’s richest horse race.

Once a horse is entered into the Indiana Derby, or passes the entry box, then a fee of $500 is collected, with that money going toward the overall purse of the race. Then, on race day, if a horse starts in the Indiana Derby, an additional $500 is collected, making the total investment per horse in the Indiana Derby field $1,000 as they vie for the $500,000-added purse money.

The owner of the winning horse in the Indiana Derby receives 60% of the purse. Therefore, if the purse is $500,000, then the winning owner receives $300,000 of the total purse. Of that $300,000, the jockey receives 10%, or $30,000 for riding the winner of the Indiana Derby. The second place finisher receives 20% of the purse while third receives 11%, fourth place receives 6% and fifth place receives 5%. The horses that finish sixth through last place will receive 1% of the purse, so every horse in the Indiana Derby field gets a return on the investment, even if it’s a small fee.

If an owner misses the deadline to nominate to the Indiana Derby, they may supplement to the race all the way up until entries close for the race on Wednesday, July 13. A fee of $2,000 is charged for the late submission.

Horses running in the Indiana Derby may carry up to 124 pounds. If a horse has not won $60,000 once or $30,000 twice at a distance of one mile or more, then the pounds are reduced by three, making the horse carry 121 pounds. If a horse has not won $30,000 at one time at a distance of one mile or more, then he receives a reduction in weight by five pounds. Other weight reductions are available for horses that have won fewer races at a top level with the most pounds being reduced for a horse in the Derby field as by up to seven pounds, or a total weight of 117 pounds.