Hoosier Park opens 21st season with tweets, big first race

Rockin' Fridays has new Terrace Showroom

By Rick Yencer

ANDERSON, INDIANA (SPORTS) -  The first race on opening day at Hoosier Park paid off in a big way amid thousands who turned out for the fun.

Not only did champion driver Tyler Smith win with Surclasser but a 15-1 horse called Ajuama driven by veteran Trace Tetrick finish second and pay off a big $28.70.

Randall Swallow who been around the track said the first race always pays off big as the 21st season of racing was filled with tweets, some surprise winners and new features and promotions.

For horse track fans, there was plenty of action at tracks in Chicago, New York, Florida and California as harness racing returned in a big way.

After the Great Winter of 14, Emily Gaskin, the face and tipster of Hoosier Park, said people were ready for racing, evidenced by the crowd Friday night. Gaskin. tweeting @HPEmilyG, pointed out track improvements with a brown limestone material and some banking at turns to give great racing.

The changes will give horses an easily run through the turn and more speed in the stretch to the finish.

The the new stage has theater style seating and there are suites that can be  reserved for private parties.The band Torn, tried out the the new Terrace on Friday to dozens still at the park after the races.

 And in April, comedian Kathy Griffin will appear on April 26 with a summer concert series coming too.

One of the newest features involves tweeting from drivers and trainers to provide even more tips already on printed programs.

Gaskin encouraged patrons to use the hash tag #PlayHP to communicate with drivers and others. Hoosier Park invested in software to increase social media communications among fans, drivers and trainers.

Rick Moore, general manager and vice president of Hoosier Park Pacing and Casino, said social media was the way the world communicates now. He believed the communication would revolutionize racing and the way it interacts with fans.

And in partnership with the Indiana Standardbred Association, the first two days of racing has more promotions, wage vouchers and dining specials. And there's always a $5 free play coupon for the casino in racing programs.

 The casino had several $500 and $1,000 winners Friday, and many people, like Mike Beeman of Yorktown, came to win some money and just have fun.

Hoosier Park will have a short schedule next week, Thursday-Sunday and go to a Tuesday-Sunday scheduled through the season until No. 15.


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