12/25/2010 Midwest: Hoosiers Go Higher

  • December 21, 2010
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 Indiana is known as the “Crossroads of America” because of its central location and interstate highway system.

The state’s horse racing industry has benefited from a geographical perspective, given Indiana is surrounded by other racing states. Despite a period of strong growth, however, racing and breeding in the state are at a crossroads of sorts.

It’s not for lack of money as far as purses and breed development programs go.

In 2007, the year before racetrack slot machines began operating at the state’s two tracks, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Downs, $16.7 million was paid to Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from riverboat casino revenue. In 2009, the first full year of racetrack slots, purses and breed development for the two breeds totaled about $60 million.

Higher purses have created new interest in Indiana racing, particularly from horsemen in neighboring states such as Kentucky. In fact, not one of Indiana’s border states—Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio—allows racetrack gaming.

The Indiana breeding program has grown as well, but not without some complications. The crux of the issue is how the millions of dollars should be spent and who ultimately should benefit.

Pari-mutuel wagering on Thoroughbred racing in Indiana began in 1995 at Hoosier Park. Indiana Downs opened in 2002.

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