A proper visit to Indiana Grand awaits for Indiana Derby Day
For a track only about a 2 1/2-hour drive from central Kentucky, Indiana Grand (nee Downs, which has held Thoroughbred racing since 2003) has unfortunately been stuck on the backburner for a long time as a place to take in a day of races.
Truth be told, I have been to the track once. I'm guessing it was October 2007 or 2008 when a planned excursion for an afternoon of harness racing was whittled down to a single race (which I barely made it to the track for) after an extended family visit ran well over the allotted time. While watching that one race was enough to add the track to a separate "Harness Tracks Visited" list, in no sense did I get a good look around the facility or get a feel for what a full or partial day out at Indiana Grand would be like.
All that changes on Saturday when I'll be covering Indiana Derby Day for Brisnet.com and TwinSpires.com. At some point Friday afternoon, Indiana Grand will be inserted in spot #28 on my Thoroughbred Tracks Visited list.
A late addition of Pat Day Mile (G3) winner Wild Shot adds some spice to the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G3), in which Irap will be favored to do something none of the other members in his class have done yet -- win three graded stakes this year. Recall that he broke his maiden in the Blue Grass (G2) in April and then out-finished Girvin in last month's Ohio Derby (G3).
It's early yet, but one longer shot worth considering might be Hollywood Handsome, who lost all chance in the first turn of the Belmont S. (G1) when jockey Florent Geroux lost his irons after the colt clipped heels. Subsequently pulled up and vanned off, he had entered the classic off a photo-finish allowance win at Churchill Downs, itself a progression off also-ran finishes in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Illinois Derby (G3).
Indiana Grand should be commended for a terrific group of undercard stakes. In addition to the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G3) for three-year-old fillies, the grass stakes -- the $100,000 Warrior Veterans and $100,000 Indiana General Assembly for fillies and mares -- came up especially strong with graded winners Pleuven, Chocolate Ride, and Linda among the entries.
The dirt stakes for older horses are pretty solid, too, with La Troienne (G1) heroine Big World and Grade 3 winner Brooklynsway topping the $100,000 Mari Hulman George, and graded mainstays Eagle and Mo Tom among the contenders in the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial.
It should be an action-packed 4+ hours at Indiana Grand Saturday night. First post is 6:05 p.m. ET, with the Indiana Derby scheduled as the 9th race. Be sure to check out the on-site coverage on Twitter @TwinSpires and on Facebook, as well as pre-race handicapping blogs here at TwinSpires.com and post-race recaps on Brisnet.
If you happen to see me wandering the stands on Saturday, stop and say hello. You can also follow me @VPHanson.