Two turf stakes kick off Indiana Derby Week

Two turf stakes will be featured on the Wednesday, July 13 racing program and will also mark the first of four days of festivities leading up to the Grade II $500,000-added Indiana Derby slated for Saturday, July 16. The race attracted 46 nominations and will be narrowed down to 12 starters during the special Indiana Post Draw Luncheon held in the Clubhouse beginning at noon. The event will be hosted by Rachel McLaughlin, on-air racing personality at Indiana Grand along with Anthony Calhoun, sports director for WISH TV.

Following the luncheon, an afternoon racing program will be held beginning at 2:05 p.m. featuring two $100,000 stakes races honoring two successful Indiana bred horses that garnered many wins over the Indiana Grand one-mile oval. The ninth running of the Ellen’s Lucky Star is slated as race six with a field of 11 while the ninth running of the Snack Stakes is carded as the eighth race on the card featuring 12 starters.

Snack, who was raised and later trained to a few stakes wins by Mike and Penny Lauer, showed a lot of promise after winning the WEBN Stakes at Turfway and the majority of the colt was sold to Paul Reddam of California. The Afternoon Deelites colt made a start in the Grade II Santa Catalina and suffered a life ending injury in the race, never achieving his full potential on the track. The race was named in his honor and began with the 2009 racing season at Indiana Grand. Lauer, who is Indiana Grand’s all-time leading stakes winning trainer, has won the race once in 2012 with Sneakin Away. That statistic may change in 2016.

This year’s field puts Badabing Badaboom as the race favorite from post six with Marcelino Pedroza aboard for the Lauers. The son of Spring at Last has won his last two starts, including the $100,000 Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Stakes at Indiana Grand. He has been chosen as the race favorite at odds of 3-1.

Joining Badabing Badaboom as one of the favorites of the Snack Stakes is Conquest Stormy, who makes his Indiana debut for trainer Mark Casse. Miguel Mena will guide the three-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic, who was a $60,000 yearling purchase from Keeneland, from post 10 at odds of 9-2. Conquest Stormy has four previous starts with one win over Churchill Downs’ turf course.

The Ellen’s Lucky Star Stakes honors a multiple stakes winner at Indiana Grand from the Greg Foley barn. The tough race mare won the Richmond Stakes three years in a row at Hoosier Park from 2003-2005 as one example of her success. The daughter of Crown Ambassador completed her career with 10 wins in 26 starts and earnings right around the quarter million dollar mark, earning 2004 Horse of the Year honors in Indiana. She has produced a few foals, including Ellen’s Tap, who earned $50,000 during her career.

Sassy Miss Officer has been tagged as the favorite of the Ellen’s Lucky Star Stakes. She is 3-5 on the morning line with jockey Leandro Goncalves aboard from post seven. The Brother Derek filly is also on a two-race win streak and won her last start out in the $100,000 Hoosier Breeders Sophomore Fillies Stakes. Mark Cristel bred and trains the filly that has three wins in seven lifetime starts.

Another filly selected as a contender in the Ellen’s Lucky Star Stakes is Express Run with James Graham aboard. The Bernie Flint-trained filly was a winner in her last start over Indiana Grand’s dirt course and will be trying the turf for the first time.

Heart’s Song won the Ellen’s Lucky Star Stakes in 2015, setting a new stakes record of 1:43.16 for the one mile, 70 yard event. Both the Ellen’s Lucky Star Stakes and the Snack Stakes will be contested at a distance of one mile over Indiana Grand’s turf course beginning in 2016.