There are many reasons the ongoing rebranding of Indiana Grand Racing & Casino to “Horseshoe Indianapolis” fits.
It puts the racetrack (which was once called Indiana Downs) and casino complex in Shelbyville, Indiana (about 30 miles southeast of downtown Indianapolis) in line with other Caesars-owned properties (there are five other Horseshoe properties in the U.S.). Caesars has a partnership with the Indianapolis Colts and, you know, the horses that run on the racetrack literally use horseshoes.
But the name change and rebranding, which should be completed this month, have come with much more. There have also been upgrades to the casino attached to the racetrack grandstand and, on the racing side, there have been improvements to the barn area for horses and backside workers.
Expanded casino space
According to Steven Jarmuz, the senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Indianapolis, the casino improvements at the facility were so extensive that there was literally jackhammering going on during the three to four months of construction.
That may not have been ideal for customers during that time, but it led to a new World Series of Poker room that opened Wednesday (there was no poker at the casino previously), new carpet, and new lighting throughout the casino. There’s also a new layout, with 2,600 extra square feet of casino floor space, which features 10 additional live tables and 225 new slot machines.
“What we’re telling our customers now is that the dust has literally settled, and they can leave their hard hats at home,” Jarmuz said.
On the racing side, Horseshoe Indianapolis has added a 50-room dormitory for backstretch workers that care for the horses on the grounds. Furthermore, Joe Morris, the senior vice president of Caesars Entertainment Racing, says a new, winterized barn with 105 stalls will be ready for horses in March.
That is part of an effort to keep horses on the grounds during the offseason (the track’s meet runs from April 19-November 23 this year). This is the first winter the track has remained open for training in the offseason, and Morris said 300 to 350 horses have remained.
How cool is this? Our new 50 room dorm is ready to go @IGRaceCourse All of the hard working people, who take such good care of our horses, are going to love these accommodations @RacingRachelM @IGTammy @IndianaHBPA @nationalhbpa pic.twitter.com/7zLTGbeAYw
— Eric Halstrom (@ericahalstrom) January 13, 2022
The idea to stay open for training during the winter months stems from the ongoing competition for horses in the racing world. With the U.S. foal crop decreasing every year, horse inventory, to maintain or increase field size, is of the utmost importance. Horses based in Indiana have traditionally wintered in places like Turfway Park (Kentucky), Oaklawn Park (Arkansas), Fair Grounds (Louisiana), and Tampa Bay Downs (Florida) — and sometimes they don’t make their way back.
“I don’t like to lose them,” Morris said.
The Indiana racetrack has also seen handle gains in recent years, since it switched from a Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday weekly schedule to a Monday-Thursday schedule in 2020, although Morris said it will have some weekend twilight days this season to attract more local fans. Horseshoe Indianapolis seems to have found its niche as a go-to weekday track for online horseplayers around the country, as opposed to competing with the major racing circuits on the weekends.
“It’s a heck of a little track,” Morris said. “Last year, we set an all-time record for handle — averaged $300,000 a day. It’s about finding your spot in the week and in the day, and we were in the wrong place in the week.”
Photo: Courtesy of Horseshoe Indianapolis