PDJF Racing Across America/Back to School Saturday

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino will join in on the national movement to raise awareness and funding for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) Saturday, July 30. Racetracks across the nation will provide additional promotions and giveaways to support the cause, and Indiana Grand has a full slate of activities during the evening, which is also “Back to School Night” featuring giveaways from the Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA).

Racing kicks off at 6:05 p.m. and will feature backpack giveaways between races, courtesy of the HBPA. The HBPA will also provide drawings for an iPad to be given away during the night as well as school items passed out to children while supplies last. Mike Brown, executive director of HBPA, will be on hand during the races to sign guests up for the drawings at a table located outside the winner’s circle.

The jockeys will get involved in a few activities, including a dunk tank that will be positioned near the paddock area. Jockeys and other key racing personnel will take turns sitting in the tank for $1 donations to PDJF. The tank will be open from 6-9 p.m. Rodney Prescott, local Jock’s Guild representative, will speak on behalf of the jockeys after the first race to explain what PDJF does and how important it is to the jockeys. Indiana Grand was the site for the second annual “Jockeys and Jeans” event held in 2015. More than $200,000 was raised for PDJF through the event that included a silent auction and numerous guest appearances from Hall of Fame jockeys and local celebrities, including several former NBA and ABA basketball players associated with the Indiana Pacers.

In addition, the jockeys will participate in their annual Tug of War contest outside the winner’s circle. The jockeys will go pound for pound against a group of individuals. Last year, they teamed up against the valets who assist them in the jockey’s quarters. The Tug of War will take place after Race 3 with an approximate start time of 7:15 p.m.

The jockeys will also test their speed skills from the starting gate in a foot race. Jockeys will line up in the Steve Peterman starting gate and sprint to the finish for bragging rights on who is the fastest jockey in the room.

Younger racing fans will enjoy several family fun activities throughout the night, including a visit from three Toy Story characters. Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear will stroll through the apron for a meet and greet until 9 p.m. Face painting and a bounce house will also be provided for kids free of charge.

All the activities will lead into two finals for Quarter Horse racing. Slated as races nine and ten, the 14th running of the $114,600 Blue River Derby Final will put some of the state’s top three-year-olds on the track for the 400-yard dash. WH Kenny G and Jose Beltran have been tagged as the race favorites from post seven at odds of 2-1. WH Kenny G is currently on a six-race win streak that dates back to August 2015. Owned by Robert Ray and Ron Brown and trained by Brown, WH Kenny G is six for nine lifetime with earnings of nearly $150,000.

Two-year-olds will be center stage for the final race of the night in the eighth running of the $98,280 Heartland Futurity, running at a distance of 300 yards. WRs Against the Wind and Berkley Packer have been chosen as morning line favorites at odds of 8-5 from post nine. The freshman son of Red Storm Cat, owned and trained by Indiana Grand’s leading trainer Randy Smith, is two for two in his brief career. He will meet up with other futurity trial winners Vampire Rose and Smitty Oxendine, who turned in the quickest time during the futurity trials at :15.535 seconds. They begin their journey from post four at odds of 6-1 for owner Cooter Daniel and trainer John McCreary.

Gran Cup, trained by Joe Davis, was the other futurity trial winner. He begins from post 10 at odds of 5-1 and picks up jockey Edwuin Lujan for the first time. Jockey Rolando Pina, who rode three that qualified for the final for Davis, selected Switching Stones as his mount for the final from post five at odds of 8-1. Switching Stones, owned by Shanell Rogers, finished a neck back in second to Wrs Against the Wind in the trials.