The Indiana Horse Racing Commission announced Friday afternoon that it is launching a marketing and promotion initiative to boost the state’s horse racing industry.
The move comes in the wake of the dismissal of long-time IHRC executive director Joe Gorajec earlier this month.
The marketing initiative will be two-pronged; with one effort aimed at drawing more horse farm operators and breeders to the state of Indiana as well as more out-of-state horses to race at Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand. The second part of the initiative will be aimed at attracting more spectators and bettors to the Indiana tracks.
“Indiana has many positive things to offer the horse racing industry, and I would like to focus on telling that story,” said IHRC Chairman Tom Weatherwax. “I believe that Indiana’s horse racing industry and the economic impact that it brings to our state is one of the best kept secrets in the nation.
“Indiana’s already home to racetracks that operate under the highest level of quality and show tremendous support for the industry and the Commission’s breed development programs which provide excellent incentives for breeding horses in our great state. That being said, there is opportunity for this Industry to grow even more,” Weatherwax added.
Weatherwax is promising that the commission will build new partnerships with members of the agriculture industry, Indiana Department of Tourism, Indiana State Fairgrounds and Purdue University.
This year, the General Assembly passed a law that made promoting the industry a responsibility of the IHRC executive director.
The law also increased the amount of money in the Breed Development Fund that may be used for IHRC expenses from 2 percent to 4 percent—which Weatherwax said gives the commission an additional $400,000 annually to spend on marketing.
Weatherwax pointed to the Oct. 20 ground breaking of the $8.8 million Centaur Equine Diagnostic and Surgical Center in Shelby County—a project being spearheaded by Purdue—as one sign of a growing equine industry.
“It will be a great addition and is another positive thing that Indiana has to offer its horse racing community,” Weatherwax said. “There are many of us, including former Sen. Robert Jackman, Sen. Luke Kenley, Centaur [Gaming] and the horsemen’s associations that have been working for years on this and are happy to see it become a reality for Indiana.”
Additional marketing efforts, Weatherwax said, include continued partnerships with the racetracks and their television partners to promote Indiana’s breed development and racing programs in addition to the future implementation of a digital presence and various community outreach efforts. Centaur recently signed a deal to air races at its tracks in Anderson and Shelbyville on WISH-TV Channel 8.