by Emily Gaskin
A field of nine will be sent postward in the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino this Friday. In what is undoubtedly the most talented field ever assembled, the 23rd installment of Hoosier Park’s signature event will highlight the 14-race program that is set to begin at 5:45 p.m. Boasting an increased purse of $325,000 for 2016, the Dan Patch Stakes will serve as Indiana’s richest harness race of the season and mark the biggest purse offering in the 23-year history of the race.
With combined career purse earnings of more than $12 million, the talented field of nine includes six world champions and six millionaires. Fellow Indiana sired world champions Freaky Feet Pete, Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki have made up the “Big Three” in the older pacing ranks this season and will lead the list of Dan Patch entrants.
Always B Miki, the number one ranked horse in harness racing’s weekly poll will play the role of morning line favorite in the field of nine at odds of 8-5 from post nine. The 5-year-old world champion pacer will make his tenth seasonal start with regular pilot David Miller in the bike for trainer Jimmy Takter. Takter, who trained the 2015 Dan Patch Stakes winner JK Endofanera, will look to be the first trainer to score back-to-back victories in the Dan Patch Stakes since Nat Varty scored with Ready To Rumble and Pacific Rocket in 1994 and 1995.
2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit will make his way back to Hoosier Park for the first time this season and has drawn the coveted rail position for trainer Clyde Francis. As the richest horse in the field with more than $3 million in lifetime purse earnings, Wiggle It Jiggleit has been tabbed 2-1 on the morning line with driver Montrell Teague at the lines.
Last season, Wiggle It Jiggleit won 22 of 26 starts for earnings of more than $2.2 million en route to being named the Horse of the Year. His list of accolades includes victories in the Meadowlands Pace, the Little Brown Jug and the Progress Pace. The 4-year-old Indiana-sired gelding set the Hoosier Park track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings last year and has won 10 of 16 starts thus far this season.
Hoosier Park’s all-time leading driver, Trace Tetrick, has been enlisted to drive Freaky Feet Pete from post two for trainer Larry Rheinheimer. Freaky Feet Pete, the winner of the 2015 Breeders Crown final for 3-year-old pacing colts, is a winner of more than $1.4 million in lifetime earnings and has been assigned odds of 5-1.
Also joining the stellar cast of entrants is Shamballa who will start from post seven with Scott Zeron in the bike. Trained by Rick Zeron, the Canadian pacing sensation proved he is a main contender for the 2016 Dan Patch title after pulling the 8-1 upset over “The Big Three” in the $225,550 U.S. Pacing Championship for older pacers at the Meadowlands Racetrack last week.
The 2016 Dan Patch field, in post position order with named drivers and trainers includes:
1. Wiggle It Jiggleit-Clyde Francis-Montrell Teague-2/1
2. Freaky Feet Pete-Larry Rheinheimer-Trace Tetrick-5/1
3. Wakizashi Hanover-Jo Ann Looney-King-TBA-30/1
4. All Bets Off-Ron Burke-Ricky Macomber Jr.-20/1
5. Mel Mara-Dylan Davis-Corey Callahan-10/1
6. Dealt A Winner-Mark Silva-John DeLong-20/1
7. Shamballa-Rick Zeron-Scott Zeron-6/1
8. Luck Be Withyou-Chris Oakes-Eric Goodell-20/1
9. Always B Miki-Jimmy Takter-David Miller-8/5
Racing fans will have the opportunity to participate in two special wagers offered for the Dan Patch card. A $20,000 guaranteed Dan Patch superfecta pool will be available along with a $15,000 guaranteed Hoosier-High Five pool on the last race of the program as part of the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program. Each wager has a minimum bet of 10 cents and is available through the cooperative efforts of the United States Trotting Association, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and the Indiana Standardbred Association.
Five lucky racing fans will also have the opportunity to place a $1,000 win bet on the horse of their choice in the Dan Patch Stakes. Slated as the 12th race on the card, estimated post time for the Dan Patch Stakes is 10:07 p.m.
The race will be part of a special weekend tagged as “Dan Patch Festival Weekend.” Hoosier Park will showcase some of the most notable names in harness racing alongside special wagers, free fireworks, giveaways, and interactive family-friendly entertainment.
In conjunction with free helicopter rides, zip-lining and roaming entertainment on Saturday, legendary country music group Asleep At The Wheel will perform a free concert in Hoosier Park’s Outdoor Music Center as part of the summer concert series line-up. The entire weekend will be culminated by a free fireworks show.
For more information on the upcoming entertainment or live racing schedule, please visitwww.hoosierpark.com.