Indiana Breed Development program tweaked for 2024

by James Platz

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission approved modifications to the state’s breed development program in a meeting held Thursday (Nov. 30). The 2024 program will feature tweaks aimed at strengthening aspects of racing at the fairs and Harrah’s Hoosier Park Racing & Casino.

“I think they are all program enhancements that we have made,” Jessica Barnes, director racing and breed development for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission, said of the adopted changes. “Each year we look at the program, we look for horsemen’s input, and we try to decide how to better the program. Everything that we have done is to take steps to respond to the input that we have received from horsemen and to better the program.”

The breed development program will offer just over $14.6 million budgeted for racing in 2024, up slightly from the $14.38 million allocated for this season. Most line items are unchanged from this year with the exception of the Indiana Sires Stakes program and Indiana Sired late closers. The most significant change in sires stakes is doubling the purses in the October consolations.

“We have increased the Indiana Sires Stakes consolation purses to $50,000,” Barnes said of the change. “Horses have to have a start in a leg in order to be eligible to those consolations. In the past, the consolations have been first preference given to horses that have started in sires stakes legs, so your point earners that don’t make it into the Super Finals. Second preference is to horses that have started in the ISS eligible races written by the race secretary at the pari-mutuel track.”

The Indiana Sires Stakes program budget is set at $8.15 million for next season. Events for sophomores will feature eight legs leading into a $250,000 Super Final. Freshman will contest six legs. Another change for 2024 is that legs offering purses of $75,000 or more will race out of detention. This season, 18 legs did not split into divisions producing purses in excess of $75,000, three of which were in freshman contests.

Indiana Sired late closers, spring series for horses with limited earnings, will see slight increases. This year $400,000 was budgeted for the late closers, with $355,800 spent. The line item is increased to $425,000 for 2024. The Jerry Landess, Miss Windfall, Cardinal and Mya Tri, which traditionally offer a pair of $9,000 legs and $18,000 final, will increase to $10,000 legs and $20,000 final. The Hal Dale, Go On BB, Expression and Msnaughtybynature will feature two $12,000 legs and a $25,000 final. Previously, the legs were contested for $11,000 with $22,000 finals.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve touched those,” Barnes said. “We didn’t make significant changes, but we gave each of those legs and finals a little boost.”

This season the Indiana Sired fair circuit made a stop at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, a first for the series. In 2024, the fair will once again make a stop at Hoosier Park, but will feature increased purses.

“The biggest change to the fairs is that we continued the fair stop at Hoosier Park, but we increased those purses from $3,800 to $4,200,” Barnes said. “We recognize that people have some more expenses when they race at Hoosier Park. We wanted to make that a little more attractive for those horses to come there, but still in line with what the fairs should be.”

For many years the Indiana fair circuit has consisted of races leading up to the Governor’s Cup Championships in August at the Indiana State Fair. Following the championships, a second series consisting of five stops and a lesser championship were offered. In 2024, the second series championship is replaced with a sixth fair stop, with $3,300 purses for each race.

“We kept the second series, but we eliminated the second series final and replaced it with another opportunity for those horses,” Barnes said.

The budget for Indiana’s fair program is set at $1.45 million, unchanged from this season.