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Duane Swingley honored by ITOBA at Indiana Grand

Duane Swingley, longtime horseman in the state of Indiana, was recognized by the Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (ITOBA) for his commitment to Thoroughbred racing. Swingley was honored Tuesday during a winner’s circle presentation during the races at Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Indiana.

“Duane has dedicated a lot of years to the sport of horse racing,” said Tom Mosley, president of ITOBA. “Even before the first pari-mutuel race and even before the first slot machine, Duane has been committed to the betterment of the sport in our state.”

Swingley (photo) was joined in the winner’s circle by members of ITOBA along with Indiana Grand management for the presentation. The Selma, Indiana native received a plaque and belt buckle for more than 50 years of service to Indiana horse racing. Swingley also is a longtime board member for ITOBA and currently serves as first vice president of the executive board.

In addition to being an active trainer and owner, Swingley also owns and operates Duane Swingley Auctioneers. Each fall he handles the details of ITOBA’s Fall Mixed Sale. This year’s event is set for Oct. 16 beginning at 1 p.m. in the Receiving Barn at Indiana Grand.

Live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing continues through Nov. 8 at Indiana Grand.

Young SHS boys basketball team doing some growing up with busy summer

Considering the circumstances surrounding John Hartnett's young career as head coach of the Shelbyville Golden Bears, the summer just completed may be the most normal thing that's happened to him.


Varsity assistant Hartnett took over the program the day of a road trip to Columbus East the season before with the departure of then-head coach Ryan Mack.  And, last season, the Covid pandemic continued a less than normal stretch as the boys basketball coach.


But the summer, with a home league and team camp, has allowed for time to settle in with a team that will feature a great deal of youth this season.  Eight seniors were lost to graduation.

It will be a bigger Shelbyville team on the front line.  But it'll take time for youth to adjust to varsity basketball.

Shelbyville was 8-14 last season with a defense that surrendered 54.1 ppg.  The Golden Bears managed to hold 11 opponents at or below that average.  Getting this team to buy in defensively will be key.

The season is still months away.  Hartnett says he's happy with the summer that has been.  Maybe, considering what has been, he's relieved.














Brian Lewis named IHSAA assistant commissioner

Brian Lewis, athletic director at Jasper High School, has been approved by the IHSAA Executive Committee to become an assistant commissioner.

Lewis was one of 10 finalists interviewed for the position and fills the vacancy left a year ago by Paul Neidig when he was named the new commissioner. His appointment date is yet to be determined.

He will administer the sports of boys and girls cross country, boys basketball, boys and girls track and field and unified track and field.

The 37-year-old Lewis comes to the IHSAA after 15 years in secondary education, the last three years as the athletic director at Jasper High School in southwest Indiana. There, he provided administrative direction and oversight to 21 athletic programs.

Prior to that he worked five years as athletic director at Monrovia High School (2013-2018) and served as head football coach and teacher at Evansville Harrison (2009-2013), Columbia City (2007-2009) and North Vermillion (2006-2007) high schools.

Lewis has been an active member and served on several committees for both the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (IIAAA) and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) from which he earned a certified master athletic administrators (CMAA) license. He was recently named to a three-year term on the IHSAA Foundation Board of Directors.

“I am pleased to announce that Brian Lewis has accepted our offer to serve as an assistant commissioner for the Indiana High School Athletic Association,” said Neidig in a media release. “Brian brings a strong background in education-based athletics to the association, along with an unbridled passion to serve student-athletes across our state. Brian is a rising star in our profession, and we are extremely fortunate to have him join the IHSAA team.”



During his career, Lewis has been a participant, head coach or administrator for IHSAA-member schools in Classes A, 2A, 3A and 4A from various areas of the state. He has served as a member of multiple IHSAA realignment and participation committees and has hosted 75 state tournament events at the sectional, regional and semistate rounds in various sports in recent years. He also has assisted in organizing the IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals the last few years.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to have been selected as an assistant commissioner of the IHSAA,” said Lewis. “I have always been very passionate about education-based athletics and I look forward to serving the member schools and student-athletes throughout the state. I am excited to join commissioner Neidig, the assistant commissioners, and the entire IHSAA staff as we continue to promote Indiana high school athletics. We are all products of our personal experiences and I have been fortunate to learn from many great mentors, colleagues, and friends throughout my career. I would not be in this position without their help, guidance, and support over the years.”

Lewis played football collegiately for four years while graduating from Indiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education in 2006. He went on to earn a master’s degree in Education from Oakland City University in 2011.

Originally from Jasper, he is an alumnus of Jasper High School and was a starting running back on the Wildcats’ 2001 IHSAA Class 4A football state championship team.

Lewis and his wife, Brooke, an elementary school teacher in Jasper, have been married for 13 years. They have two children, Isabelle and Drew. He also is the grandson of the late former IHSAA commissioner C. Eugene Cato (1983-1995).

Former Golden Bear swimmer commits to Purdue

Former record-setting Golden Bear swimmer Grace Lux recently announced her verbal commitment to continue her academic and athletic career at Purdue University.

Now a rising senior at Fishers High School, located northeast of Indianapolis, Lux still holds multiple Shelbyville High School girls swim program records. She was a sectional champion in 2020 in the 100-yard breaststroke and finished 14th in the state championship meet.

As a freshman in 2019, Lux also qualified for the state meet in the 100 breaststroke where she finished ninth.

As a junior at Fishers, the state runner-up behind national powerhouse Carmel, Lux competed in three events at the state meet.

She placed seventh in the 100 breaststroke and 15th in the 200 individual medley, an event she was crowned Hoosier Heritage Conference champion in 2020, and was part of Fishers’ seventh-place finishing 200 medley relay team.

Lux is the daughter of Matt and Christina Lux.

Full house watches first ever Exotic Animal Racing event at Indiana Grand

A full house of racing fans came out to Indiana Grand Saturday to witness a first of its kind event in the state of Indiana.

The track hosted ostrich, camel and zebra racing during the third All-Quarter Horse Day for 2021.

Zebras were first to step onto the track. The four entrants were ridden by Indiana Grand jockeys and exercise riders with Amara Kranz scoring the win aboard Zebiscuit. Other entrants included Stripes with Francisco Quintero, Led Zeblin ridden by John Baker, and I’ll Be White Back ridden by Cristian Reyes.

Kranz noted in a post-race interview this was a bucket list item for her to guide a zebra in a race.

“They came out of the gate fast,” said Kranz, who is an exercise rider. “I’ve ridden some tough horses but never a zebra. I was just worried about hanging on.”

Four camels stepped into the starting gate next with Oh Camel Ye Faithful getting an early jump on the field and striding home to the win with jockey Natasha Fritz aboard. Other entrants included Hump Day with John Baker, Drama Dairy with Cristian Reyes and Humpty Dumpty with Bennett Greely.

“I just held on with my knees and set up a little and shot him his head,” said Fritz. “And then I just yelled ‘ye ye ye’ the whole way.”

The final event placed five ostriches in the starting gate. The birds started out of the gate and went all directions. Jose Ruiz was able to sit still and hold on as Emu-Ji ran the fastest to the finish line. Other entrants included Flightless Fred and Mandy Green, Ken the Kicker and Cristian Reyes, Ostri-Sized and Elias Vallejo and Two Toed Tony and German Rodriguez.

“I just held on and tried not to fall off,” said Ruiz.

Reyes, who rode in all three events, added, “It was really great. I didn’t know where the ostrich was going. I just tried to stay on.”

The event was provided by Hedrick Promotions based in Nickerson, Kansas. The group travels all across the country each season to provide the Exotic Animal Racing at racetracks and special events. They are headed back to the farm before loading up next week and heading to Nevada for their next show.

Botticelli Beach wins Gordon Mobley Futurity at Indiana Grand

Botticelli Beach was the quickest qualifier from the trials, and she turned out to be the quickest to the wire in the 12th running of the $189,500 Gordon Mobley Futurity Saturday at Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Indiana.

Starting from post two, Botticelli Beach (photo) and Jose Beltran got out of the gate ready to roll and led the entire way, posting a neck win in 15.640 seconds. High Rolling Seize and Shanley Jackson finished second followed by FE Stone Crusher and Sammy Mendez for third.

Botticelli Beach is now two for three in her brief career. She is owned and trained by Claudio Barraza, who purchased the filly through Miller Ranch’s Online Sale last fall. They visited the farm and picked the filly out of the field as one to add to their stable.

“I was super impressed with her today,” said Barraza, who is based out of Chicago. “She’s a little bit bigger than her sister (Shakeitonthebeach). In her first race, I actually thought she won that one too. It was so close. We have her paid into the Stallion Service Auction Futurity and the Futurity at the end of the season, so we’ll try to be back for those.”

Botticelli Beach joins her sister, Shakeitonthebeach, as winners in the Gordon Mobley Futurity. Shakeitonthebeach, campaigned by Randy Smith, won the 2019 edition of the stakes race.

Beltran has been aboard Botticelli Beach for all three of her career starts. She now has in excess of $110,000 in career earnings for Barraza.

The race was the final contest on the third All-Quarter Horse day of 2021 in front of a packed crowd. The next All-Quarter Horse racing day is Aug. 14 and will feature trials for the QHRAI Stallion Service Auction Futurity and Derby.

Beach Blast blasts field to win Blue River Derby

Beach Blast and Sammy Mendez have been nothing less than spectacular all season long. The duo earned their second Derby win this season Saturday, scoring the latest in the 19th running of the $137,700 Blue River Derby at Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Indiana.

Starting from post eight, Beach Blast (photo) was out of the gate in a blink of an eye, putting a neck in front of the competition early on. Midway through the 400-yard dash, the sophomore hit another gear and pulled away from the field, winning by two and one-half lengths at the wire in 19.622 seconds, the second fastest time in Blue River Derby history.

Stone Lake and L.D. Martinez finished second over WH Imastreakinbeach and Jose Ruiz.

Beach Blast earned his third consecutive trip to the winner’s circle. He is owned by Keith Bode and Brock Hutchinson and trained by Indiana Grand’s all-time leading Quarter Horse conditioner Randy Smith.

“We enjoyed watching him today that’s for sure,” said Smith. “We were just concerned about making him go straight. We’ve had a little trouble with that, but maybe we got him going now.”

Beach Blast is now six for 10 in his career. The Sheri Miller-bred son of Escondido Beach was purchased from the QHRAI Speed Sale as a yearling for $22,000. He now has more than $280,000 in career earnings.

Paint Your Legacy moves up for Jaguar Rocket Futurity Title

Trainer Randy Smith entered the winner’s circle to greet Carter’s Law as the winner of the 19th running of the $131,600 Jaguar Rocket Futurity, but left with Paint Your Legacy, his other entrant, as the title winner.

Ridden by Berkley Packer, Paint Your Legacy moved up for the win following a disqualification.

Starting from the outside post 10, Paint Your Legacy was in mid pack early on as Carter’s Law and Sammy Mendez took control a few strides out of the gate. As the finish line neared, Paint Your Legacy extended his stride and moved up to finish second, just a neck ahead of Zack James and Shanley Jackson.

The win marked the second of his brief career for Paint Your Legacy in five career starts. Ironically, the son of PYC Paint Your Wagon was also moved up from second to the win in his trial of the Jaguar Rocket Futurity. Paint Your Legacy is owned by Duke Racing LLC and is a homebred from the Duke family’s operation based in Whiteland, Indiana.

Paint Your Legacy turned in two starts this spring at Remington before shipping back to his home base in Indiana and joining the Smith barn. His win in the Jaguar Rocket Futurity now places him over the $80,000 mark in career earnings for his connections.

Prize Kiss edges All Out in Heartland Futurity at Indiana Grand

They finished one-two in the trials with All Out getting the edge. This time, it was Prize Kiss and jockey L.D. Martinez who got the nod at the wire to win the 13th running of the Heartland Futurity Saturday at Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Indiana.

Starting side by side in posts two and three, All Out and Berkley Packer got away from the gate in contention for the top spot early on as Prize Kiss to his outside began making a move forward midway through the 300-yard dash.

Prize Kiss (photo) matched strides with All Out who made one final surge to take the lead again, but Prize Kiss came back a second time to win in a head bob in a time of 15.586 seconds. BP CK Eagle and Cristian Esqueda finished third.

Prize Kiss, a longshot in the 10-horse field, paid $27.60 for the win. The two-year-old sorrel gelding, a son of Kiss My Hocks, is owned by Pamela Brickley Hann and Craig Zeneberg. Tony Cunningham handles the training duties for Prize Kiss, who broke his maiden in the stakes race.

“This horse is a really nice horse who is just coming into his own,” said Cunningham. “We bought him out of the Heritage Place Sale last fall (for $38,000). Pam Hann and Craig Zeneberg are great owners. They send us to the sale and trust us to buy them a horse.”

Prize Kiss, who was making his second career start, now has in excess of $75,000 in earnings. He was bred by Flag Ranch LLC in Oklahoma.

“He was a handful when we got him home,” said Cunningham. “He didn’t want anyone touching him. He was hard on everyone. Hard on the horseshoer. We couldn’t do much with him. But we took our time and he turned the corner and now he’s great and he’s coming around.”


Mojo Man motors home in inaugural Sent It In Army Stakes

Mojo Man came into Indiana for the first time with impressive credentials, including Graded Stakes experience. But he’s leaving with a new title as he scored his first stakes win in the inaugural running of the $65,000 Send It In Army Stakes Wednesday at Indiana Grand.

Mojo Man (photo) began his journey from the outside in the five-horse field and sat back as Rock N June Bug and Tommy Pompell set quick fractions of 22.03 seconds and 44.73. He was joined by Long Weekend and Jose Batista and Double Tuff and Jesus Castanon, who moved up between horses, in the only turn of the six-furlong race.

In the stretch, Mojo Man accelerated past rivals, picking them off one by one before moving comfortably under the wire for the win by two and one-quarter lengths. Double Tuff finished second over Long Weekend for third.

The final time of the stakes race was 1:09.35, which becomes the stakes record for the inaugural running of the Send It In Army Stakes.

The victory was the ninth in the career of Mojo Man, who has had 29 career starts. The six-year-old Stay Thirsty gelding has been with the James Divito barn since the beginning of his career. Owned by Dash Goff, Mojo Man now has in excess of $450,000 in career earnings.

The Send It In Army Stakes emerged from a movement on social media by Gabe Prewitt, Director of Racing for Caesars Entertainment. Approximately six years ago, Prewitt sent out a message on Twitter from Pompano Park regarding a wager asking racing fans to share their selections and “Send It In.”

As a result of that message, racing fans began using the moniker as a hashtag and the term caught on, creating a new following for Prewitt and horse racing. Followers began referring to themselves as the “Army” of bettors who completed the name.

Indiana Grand is the third property under the Caesars Entertainment Racing umbrella to host a stakes in honor of the term, joining Scioto Downs and Harrah’s Hoosier Park with a race named “Send It In Army.”

Prewitt was trackside to assist with on-air handicapping of the race as well as present the trophy for the inaugural running of the stakes.

Mundaye Call wins inaugural Clarksville Stakes

Mundaye Call and jockey Florent Geroux scored the win in the inaugural running of the $65,000 Clarksville Stakes Wednesday at Indiana Grand in Shelbyville, Indiana.

The race is named in honor of the track’s Winner’s Circle Race, Sports, Pub off-track wagering facility located in Clarksville, Ind.

Mundaye Call (photo) showed early speed in past races, and Geroux used that skill to his advantage in the first few strides of the six-furlong event. Euphoric and Marcelino Pedroza were able to get the jump on Mundaye Call and took control on the front end, leaving Mundaye Call to the outside of Assertive Style and Edgar Morales along the rail, who held steady in second.

Geroux waited patiently before asking for more speed and, in the turn, he was able to move up on Euphoric for the stretch drive.

Once she had gotten a slight advantage, Mundaye Call moved into another gear, rallying home beside Euphoric until she was able to get the edge by three-quarters of a length at the wire in 1:09.4. She Can’t Sing and Declan Carroll finished third.

“She (Mundaye Call) always gives you high regards because she has great works in the morning,” said Geroux, who has been aboard in half her career starts. “She ran a great race today and I was very pleased with her performance.”

Mundaye Call is owned by Larry Best’s OXO Equine LLC and trained by Brad Cox. The four-year old daughter of Into Mischief scored her first win of 2021 after running earlier this spring at Keeneland and most recently at Lone Star. The well-traveled filly is now four for 10 lifetime and pushed her career bankroll to more than $250,000.

“Bernie’s (Flint) filly (Euphoric) was solid on the front end,” said Ricky Giannini, assistant trainer to Cox who oversees the string based out of Indiana. “When she got her head in front, she did her thing. She’s been here since last Saturday and we were able to train her here over the track. She’s a little tough to gallop, but we have good hands to keep her four feet on the ground.”

Live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing continues through Nov. 8 at Indiana Grand.

Friends of Ferdinand receives donation from Indiana Grand

Friends of Ferdinand is a longtime racehorse aftercare program located in central Indiana. Their mission of retraining and rehoming retired racehorses is vital to the Thoroughbred racing industry.

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, located in Shelbyville, Indiana, is proud to be an annual donor to the organization, which has placed many former racehorses into second careers after life on the track.

“The donation of $6,000 will cover the cost of placing two former racehorses into their next career,” said Wendy Brown, board member for Friends of Ferdinand. “We are thrilled to get this donation. Indiana Grand is so dedicated to the aftercare of horses, and we appreciate their support.”

Friends of Ferdinand, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, is the only Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance accredited operation in the state of Indiana. Located in Mooresville, Ind., hundreds of former racehorses have gone through their program and are now enjoying life as show horses, jumpers, trail horses, and even reigning horses. Since 2005, a total of 95% of the horses passing through their program are thriving in new careers.

“Without aftercare programs such as Friends of Ferdinand, many of our racehorses would not have the opportunity to find good homes at the conclusion of their racing careers,” said Eric Halstrom, vice president and general manager of racing at Indiana Grand. “These horses still have a lot of value when their racing careers are complete, so providing this avenue into a new phase of their life is very important to the racing industry. We are very proud to support their efforts on an annual basis and value our partnership with Friends of Ferdinand.”

More information on horses currently available for adoption and other news about Friends of Ferdinand may be found at

Quarter Horse Stakes, exotic animal racing Saturday at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino will be featuring all types of action on the track Saturday, July 24 for the third All-Quarter Horse racing day of 2021. Action gets underway at 10 a.m. with four stakes on the nine-race card. The day includes Exotic Animal Racing featuring zebras, camels and ostriches during the program, a first for the state of Indiana.


More than $683,000 in purse money is set for the Quarter Horse card with the 12th running of the Gordon Mobley Futurity closing out the day in the ninth race. Botticelli Beach, the quickest qualifier from the trials, has been tagged as the heavy favorite in the field of 10 and will start from post two. Ridden by Jose Beltran, the Escondido Beach filly makes her third start in the $189,500 final for owner-trainer Claudio Barraza. The other favorite in the field is High Rolling Seize from the Matt Frazier barn who starts from post one with Shanley Jackson aboard at odds of 3-1.


Beach Blast will headline the field for the 19th running of the $137,700 Blue River Derby set as the eighth race. The sophomore son of Escondido Beach has been outstanding this season, winning two of three starts, including the Harley Greene Derby, and topping the list of qualifiers for the final. Owned by Keith Bode and Brock Hutchinson, Beach Blast seeks his sixth career win and his third career stakes win for Trainer Randy Smith. The sorrel gelding starts from post eight with Sammy Mendez aboard at odds of 4-5.


Other stakes on the card include the 13th running of the $132,240 Heartland Futurity as Race 6 and the 19th running of the $131,600 Jaguar Rocket Futurity as Race 7. All Out from the Tim Eggleston Stable gets the early nod as the favorite in the Heartland Futurity. He starts from post two at odds of 9-5 with Berkley Packer aboard. The two-year-old son of Coronado Cartel is owned and bred by Richard Joneson of Oklahoma.


Carters Law of the Smith barn has been selected as the early morning line favorite in the Jaguar Rocket Futurity. The Carters Cartel filly, owned and bred by Gordon Timm, starts from post seven with Sammy Mendez aboard at odds of 6-5.


Exotic Animal racing will be held after Races 5, 7 and 9. Zebras will be the first to take the track around 12:10 p.m. followed by Camel racing after the seventh race at approximately 1:25 p.m. The final exotic animal race will feature five ostriches following the final race of the day with an estimated post time of 2:40 p.m. All animals will begin from Indiana Grand’s starting gate with jockeys and exercise riders competing aboard the special racing participants at a distance of approximately 100 yards.


A special Meet and Greet with the animals will be provided from 4 – 6 p.m. Friday, July 23 in the track maintenance area. The zebras, camels and ostriches will be on display for up close viewing free to the public. Owner Joe Hedrick of Kansas will be available for questions about the animals that travel across the nation each year to compete in the unique racing events.

IHSAA releases 2021-2022 sports calendar

The Indiana High School Athletic Association has released its 2021-2022 sports calendar with first practice dates, first contest dates, tournament draw dates as well as postseason tournament dates.

Girls golf teams can conduct their first practice of the 2021 season on July 30, with first contest dates commencing three days later.

Golf sectionals begin on Sept. 17.

All other fall sports – boys tennis, cross country, soccer, volleyball, football and unified football – start Aug. 2 with official games following two weeks later on Aug. 14, except for football.

The high school football season kicks off on Aug. 20.

Unified flag football state tournament draw is Sept. 20. Sectional games start nine days later.

Both boys and girls soccer sectional draws are Sept. 26, with boys tennis draw one day later. Soccer sectionals begin Oct. 4. Tennis sectionals commence on Sept. 29.

The volleyball tournament draw is Oct.3. Sectionals open on Oct. 12.

The football state tournament draw is Oct. 10. Sectional games follow on Oct. 22.

Cross country, which does not have a state tournament draw, begins sectional competition on Oct. 9.

For more information, visit

Other key dates for the 2021-2022 year:

  • Oct. 18 – first girls basketball practice
  • Oct. 25 – first girls swimming practice
  • Nov. 1 – first wrestling practice
  • Nov. 8 – first boys swimming and boys basketball practices
  • Nov. 15 – first gymnastics practice
  • Feb. 14 – first boys and girls track and field practices
  • March 7 – first unified track practice and first softball practice
  • March 14 – first girls tennis, boys golf and baseball practices

Adjustment made to pre-pitch sequence in high school baseball

High school baseball pitchers who do not receive signals from the catcher must now simulate taking a sign with one foot on the pitcher’s plate before proceeding with a pitch.

This addendum to Rule 6-1-1 was the lone rule change forwarded by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee and was subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. The baseball committee’s annual rules meeting was held June 6-8 in a virtual format.

A pitcher leaning forward to receive a sign from the catcher is fundamental to the pre-pitch phase of the game as it indicates to both the batter and the players in the field that the ball is about to be put in play and is the typical signal for any runners on base to begin taking their leadoffs.

Further, most high school baseball coaches deliver their defensive play calls – including pitch selections – from the dugout, which allows a pitcher to throw toward the plate abruptly (“quick pitch”) and catch opposing batters by surprise. This new mandate within Rule 6-1-1 forces the pitcher to pause, providing ample time for all participants to prepare for the pitch.

“While this rule change might appear to be a small change, the significance of what it represents is huge!” said Elliott Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and liaison to the NFHS Baseball Rules Committee. “We have been extremely fortunate that our Baseball Rules Committee recognizes that the high school game is in wonderful shape and that is because our coaches and umpires around the country teach the necessary skills and arbitrate the appropriate rules to make the game fun, exciting and educational.”

The NFHS Baseball Rules Committee also spent part of its rules meeting compiling its Points of Emphasis (POEs) for next season. The five POEs, which prioritized healthy and safety and sportsmanship during the 2022 season, are as follows:

  • Monitoring Excessive Celebration
  • Wearing Equipment as Intended by Manufacturers
  • Safety of Coaches Sitting on Buckets Outside Bench/Dugout Area
  • Umpiring Procedure for Lodged Ball
  • Sportsmanship

“Points of Emphasis are used in an educational setting and fashion,” Hopkins said. “The rules committee is telling the baseball community that these topics – elaborately choreographed celebrations, wearing of equipment inappropriately, sitting on buckets, understanding the lodged ball and a call for increased positive sportsmanship – are paramount in education-based athletics. This is a wonderful game that allows an abundant number of participants to find a role on the team, and we want students to want to play for their school and be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

A complete listing of the baseball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Baseball.”

According to the most recent NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, baseball is the fourth-most popular sport for boys with 482,740 student-athletes in 16,170 high schools nationwide. The survey also indicated that 1,284 girls across the country play high school baseball.

Player equipment changes part of high school softball rules revisions

Two significant player equipment changes involving the wearing of head coverings and beads were among the rules revisions approved in high school softball for the upcoming 2022 season.

These changes along with six other rules revisions were recommended by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS) Softball Rules Committee at its June 14-16 meeting held in a virtual format and subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

In Rule 3-2-5b, language that previously prohibited hard items to control the hair, including beads, has been removed from the rules book. The committee did not believe that the use of hard items, such as beads, presented an injury risk to other players. In contrast, the prohibition of such items has been interpreted as adversely affecting one’s cultural backgrounds.

In addition, head coverings worn for religious reasons in high school softball no longer will require prior approval from the respective state high school association. The revised Rule 3-2-5c states that “head coverings worn for religious reasons must be made of non-abrasive, soft materials and must fit securely so that it is unlikely to come off during play. Head coverings worn for medical reasons require state association approval.”

The Softball Rules Committee is the seventh NFHS sports rules committee that has modified rules this year related to religious and cultural backgrounds. In addition to softball, participants in volleyball, basketball, soccer, field hockey and spirit will be permitted to wear religious headwear without prior approval from their respective state associations. In swimming and diving, for religious reasons, competitors will be able to wear suits that provide full body coverage without obtaining prior state association authorization.

“The NFHS, in its effort to be a learning organization and one that is founded on the basis of inclusion is striving to work with our young participants in our efforts to celebrate the beautiful diversity that continues to increase,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director, in a recent The NFHS Voice. “We are excited about that and want to support that. And while we will always strive to keep kids safe and keep games being played the way they were designed to be played, we do want to recognize the importance of a young person’s identity.”

In other changes to high school softball rules, new ball specifications will be required effective January 1, 2025, for high school competition. Balls manufactured with current specifications will be permitted for use through 2024. The change in 2025 will occur in compression and weight/circumference for balls in fastpitch competition. The changes in the way the requirements are specified do not represent a difference in ball performance but allow for better control over the manufacturing process.

A change also was made in Rule 8-2-6 regarding a batter-runner being called out for interference. A runner now will be considered outside the running lane if either foot last contacted the ground completely outside the lane.

“Based on previous wording, some umpires established their ruling on whether the runner’s foot was on the ground or in the air when the interference occurred,” said Sandy Searcy, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Softball Rules Committee. “The new wording more adequately describes the intent of the rule and will provide more consistent enforcement.”

A new article and penalty were added to Rule 3-6 regarding damaged bats. Article 21 states that “batters shall not use a damaged bat that was previously removed from the game by an umpire.” And the accompanying penalty is as follows: “The batter shall be called out and the offender and head coach shall be restricted to the dugout for the remainder of the game.”

Other high school softball changes for 2022 include the following:

  • Rule 1-2-1 – Bases for first, second and third may be designed to disengage from their anchor system. This language was added to Rule 1 where all field equipment rules exist. Similar language is already addressed in Rule 8-8-14 EFFECT, which states that a runner reaching a base safely will not be out for being off the base if it becomes dislodged.
  • Rule 3-5-3 – New language defines what is permissible attire for coaches during a game.
  • Rule 6-2-2 – The following language was moved to a Note to provide support to keep pitchers legal but removed the discrepancy in penalties from Rule 3-2-9: “A pitcher shall not wear any item on the pitching hand, wrist, arm or thighs which the umpire judges to be distracting to the batter.”

A complete listing of the softball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Softball.”

According to the most recent NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, fastpitch softball is the fifth-most popular sport for girls with 362,038 participants in 15,877 high schools nationwide.

Field event safety, uniform changes highlight track and field/cross country rules revisions

Two rules revisions involving the competitor’s uniform, along with procedural changes in several field events designed to reduce the risk of injury, highlight rules changes in high school track and field and cross country for the 2022 season.

These changes were among the rules revisions recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committees and subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Similar to a number of other NFHS rules committees, the Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee altered its rules regarding head coverings worn for religious reasons.

Rule 4-3-1b(8) now states that “head coverings worn for religious reasons are not considered hair devices; must not be made of abrasive, hard or unyielding materials; and must be secured to the body and/or uniform.”

The change clarifies that there is no need for prior authorization from the state association for religious headwear.

The Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee is the eighth NFHS sports rules committee that has modified rules this year related to religious and cultural backgrounds. In addition to track and field, participants in volleyball, basketball, soccer, field hockey, spirit and softball will be permitted to wear religious headwear without prior approval from their respective state association. In swimming and diving, for religious reasons, competitors will be able to wear suits that provide full body coverage without obtaining prior state association authorization.

The other change in the track and field uniform concerns the uniform bottoms. Beginning next year, the manufacturer’s logo/trademark/reference on the uniform bottom may be larger than 2.25 square inches around the waistband.

“In track and field, uniform bottoms are increasingly being purchased by the athlete and not school-issued,” said Julie Cochran, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee. “It is becoming more difficult to purchase some garments without the logo completely around the waistband. Since allowing larger logos around the waistband has no bearing or impact on the race or event, the committee determined the change would minimize issues related to logo/trademark/reference on uniform bottoms.”

Rule 6 concerning rules for field events has been completely re-organized to assist coaches, officials and participants in following the rules.

As part of these revisions, the rules clarify that running in the direction other than how the event is conducted in prohibited during warmups, with the exception of high jump. The articles more clearly organize warmups, competitions and conclusion of all field events with a focus on risk minimization.

“The NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee accomplished two years of work in one via Zoom this year,” said Cody Inglis, chair of the NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee and assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “The committee was focused on enhancing the two great sports of track and field and cross country with the unique experiences that education-based athletics provides more than a million student-athletes around the country each year. This year, the focus of the committee was on building upon the foundation set by previous rules committees in continuing to enhance fair, safe competition that can be easily officiated. We are pleased that with the rewrite of Rule 6 that it will allow a rules book that can be more easily used by coaches, officials and others to make these great sports even better.”

One change was approved in Rule 8 related to cross country and another in Rule 9 regarding records. A note was added to Rule 8-1-1a stating that “a single wide line, if used on turns, should utilize other methods of markings (natural or artificial boundary markers, or signposts with large directional arrows) to assist the runner in identifying the course route.

“Since a single wide line may not be the shortest route, this change clarifies that other methods of marking a course should be used with a single wide line to help identify the turns and route of the course,” Cochran said.

A change in Rule 9-3-2 and other related rules clarifies when measurements for record attempts in the vertical jumps should be taken.

The final revision was approved in Rule 5-10-6 NOTE, which clarifies when each exchange zone is to be used.

A complete listing of the track and field and cross country rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Track & Field/Cross Country.”

According to the most recent NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, outdoor track and field is the second-most popular sport for boys and the No. 1 sport for girls with 605,354 and 488,267 participants, respectively.

Cross country ranks No. 6 for boys and girls with 269,295 and 219,345 participants, respectively.

In addition, there are an additional 150,253 combined participants in indoor track and field.

Morristown names new athletic director, boys bball, soccer coaches

Morristown filled major vacancies in the high school athletic department as the new school year quickly approaches.


The Shelby Eastern school board approved Yellow Jackets assistant boys basketball coach Collin McCartt as the new head coach.  McCartt fills the vacancy left by the departure of Scott McClelland to Noblesville.


McCartt has been an assistant for the program for the last two seasons.  He has been a head coach at North Putnam, Morgan Township and Prairie Heights.


Meanwhile, Eric Screeton joins Morristown as its new athletic director.  Screeton comes to Morristown from Manchester High School where he’s been AD for three years after years in the classroom as a social studies and PE teacher.



Austen Clark was approved as the new Morristown soccer coach. He is a 2007 MHS graduate, served in the Marine Corps from 2007-2017, and has various backgrounds of soccer experience. He has been the assistant soccer coach the last three years.


Troubled Justice now a stakes winner at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Patience is a virtue and for the connections of Troubled Justice, a year delay in racing has turned out to be the key that has unlocked two trips to the winner’s circle in two starts. Troubled Justice and Sammy Bermudez scored a win in their latest journey in the 13th running of the $75,000-added Snack Stakes at Indiana Grand.


“Greg (Justice) actually hand picked this horse out of his yearlings as the one to keep,” said Trainer Aaron West. “He did that once before and that horse also turned out to be a stakes winner.”


Troubled Justice started his race from post one in the eight-horse field over the turf running one mile. Nobody Listens and Joe Ramos were to their outside and shot straight to the lead as expected and kept the field at least two lengths off of them the entire way until the top of the stretch.


Around the final turn, A Few Too Many and Tommy Pompell saved ground by moving up the rail while Bermudez had Troubled Justice moving at a quick pace to join Nobody Listens for the stretch drive. Nobody Listens didn’t give up without a fight. He held onto the top spot as he was joined by the other two, but midway through the stretch, Troubled Justice had built up some pretty impressive momentum, striding by for the win by two lengths over Nobody Listens. A Few Too Many held strong for third.


“I had to move him a little in the turn because I didn’t want the speed to stay out there by himself,” said Bermudez of Nobody Listens. “I didn’t want to be too late to catch him. This is only the second time I’ve been on him, just in his two wins, and he has no problems. He’s good in the post parade and he’s good in the gate. I thank Aaron (West) and the owner for this opportunity.”


The opportunity Bermudez is referring to was being in the right place at the right time. In his first start, the scheduled jockey called off and Bermudez picked up the assignment, scoring the win. That effort led to him being aboard for the Snack Stakes and the duo are now two for two in their young career.


“Sammy (Bermudez) has ridden for me in the past,” added West. “There is never a doubt that he is going to give it his all when he rides, especially on a first-time starter, like in this horse’s first start. He listens and has done a great job with him.”


Bermudez was also greeted in the winner’s circle by his mother, who just arrived from his native Puerto Rico the night before.


“It’s really special to have her in the winner’s circle with me,” said Bermudez. “She has come up once a year the past couple of years to watch me. I love it.”


Troubled Justice is owned and bred by Greg Justice’s Justice Farm. The Indiana bred son of Dominus now has nearly $65,000 in career earnings in only two starts. Both West and Justice agreed to hold off on launching the gelding’s career until this season.


“He was so big, we just decided to be patient and wait,” said West. “We were two works away from running last year and we shut him down. Greg (Justice) has been good to work with on this horse and agreed to give him some time and just wait.”

Voodoo Justice works her magic in Ellen's Lucky Star Stakes at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Voodoo Justice caught the eye of trainer Tony Duran for good reason. Although it’s taken some time to get her straightened out, she is now blossoming into a good racehorse and can now add stakes winner to her credentials. Guided by Orlando Mojica, the sophomore filly won the 13th running of the $75,000 Ellen’s Lucky Star Stakes Wednesday, July 14 at Indiana Grand.


Mojica was given the green light to advance to the front from the start of the one-mile turf race, and when he saw no one else was going to seize the opportunity, he sent Voodoo Justice straight out to the lead. Tuckyourtaleandrun and Edgar Morales moved up into a stalking position on the outside early in the race, but Voodoo Justice had complete control of the tempo moving down the backstretch.


In the final turn, several opponents began to make their move to overtake Voodoo Justice, but she held her ground. With horses surrounding them, Mojica asked her for another gear in the lane and she gave it to him, pulling away to a one and three-quarter length win at the wire in a time of 1:39.74. Taperinea and Andres Ulloa won the tight five-way photo for second over Swift Temple and Emmanuel Esquivel who finished on the extreme outside of the pack for third.


“Tony (Duran) told me if she broke well and no one else made the lead to go ahead, so that’s what we did,” said Mojica, who is a three-time leading rider at Indiana Grand. “I just wanted to make sure we were in good position early so it worked out. I want to thank Tony and Katie for this opportunity. This was the first time I’d ever been on her today. She can run. She never gave up.”


Owned by Tony and Katie Duran’s Rancho Monarca LLC, it was the third career win for Voodoo Justice and her second in five starts for 2021. The Indiana bred daughter of Harry’s Holiday, bred by Justice Farm, increased her career bankroll to more than $109,000 with the win.


Although the Durans raise a lot of their horses, they do buy a few at the sales each year. They bought Voodoo Justice as a yearling at the Fasig Tipton October Yearling Sale for $20,000, and they are now seeing their investment pay off.


“I saw her in the ring and she looked phenomenal,” said Tony. “She looked like a racehorse. But when we got her home we really had trouble with her. All last year, we could not get her to relax. But she’s finally coming around and beginning to relax. She’s always had a lot of ability. It was just a matter of putting it all together. I have really good help and that makes all the difference.”


The turf is not really in her breeding, but Voodoo Justice has now won both her starts on the grass this season. She joins several past stakes winners that have emerged from Rancho Monarca.


“The state that I’m from in Mexico is where all the monarch butterflies migrate every winter, so that is why we named our stable Rancho Monarca,” explained Tony. “Michoacán is where they all migrate too.”


The Durans have two places for their racehorse operation. Locally, they have a farm where their brood mares and babies stay while the remaining members of the stable travel south to their farm to prepare for the Indiana racing season.


“This filly went to Florida for the winter,” added Duran. “I take all the racehorses to Florida. Again, I couldn’t’ do it without all the great help I have in the barn. They work hard.”

File to continue collegiate softball career at University of Louisville

Hannah File’s collegiate softball career will continue at the University of Louisville.

The 2017 Shelbyville High School graduate made the move official Wednesday, announcing her decision on Twitter.

File has two years of eligibility left after playing two-plus seasons at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She graduated in December of 2020 with a degree in Chemistry and Business.

In 2019, File started all 61 games for James Madison, who won the Michigan Regional before being swept by eventual national champion UCLA in the super regional round of the NCAA tournament.

The Dukes finished 51-10 that season while File hit .315 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 39 runs batted in.

James Madison was 43-14 during File’s freshman season in 2018. She hit .282 in 21 games.

The Dukes were 13-6 in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down college sports. File was hitting .389 with four doubles, two triples, four home runs and 17 RBIs.

College athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility which allows File to play two more seasons while pursuing a master’s degree.

File spent this spring contemplating offers from a number of Division I colleges and universities and served as Shelbyville Middle School’s softball coach, leading the team to an 8-3 record.

Louisville, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), finished the 2021 season with a 21-28-1 record (15-21-1 vs. ACC opponents). The Cardinals’ season ended with a 4-3 loss in the ACC Tournament to Duke.

Louisville was 35-23 in 2019 under head coach Holly Aprile and played in a NCAA regional championship game.

Aprile is 66-64-1 in two-plus seasons at Louisville.

Mr. Wireless connects in Grade 3 Indiana Derby

It was a flawless connection for Mr. Wireless and he made all the right moves to dominate the 27th running of the $300,000 Grade 3 Indiana Derby. It was the second win in three years for trainer Bret Calhoun in front of a packed house with the all-sources handle soaring to a new record of $6,292,387.

Starting from post six, Mr. Wireless (photo) wasted no time getting out of the gate for jockey Ramon Vazquez. Three horses were across the track heading into the first turn with Mr. Wireless widest of all. Vazquez backed off of WW Crazy and Victor Santiago and allowed them to move onto the lead while Starrininmydreams and Luis Saez, who were between horses, backed away into third.

Down the backstretch, Mr. Wireless moved up on the outside of WW Crazy by the halfway mark of the one and one-sixteenth-mile race. The sophomore son of Dialed In waited patiently until Starrininmydreams moved three wide to press the pace, making Mr. Wireless move on and take control of the race.

In the stretch, Mr. Wireless had Starrininmydreams to his outside and Sermononthemount to his inside but was able to shake loose, drawing off to a three and three-quarter-length advantage at the wire. Sermononthemount and James Graham finished second over favored Fulsome and Florent Geroux, who moved up late to finish third.

“I am really confident in my horse,” said Vazquez. “I know my horse is getting better and better. So, I just put my horse in a good position. When I asked him the last quarter, he gave me everything he has. He’s going to be a good horse.”

Mr. Wireless paid $9.80 for the win. After going unraced at two, he is now three for five in his career. The Grade 3 Indiana Derby marks the first career stakes win, and he doubled his career bankroll to more than $360,000. Jon Lapczenski and John Kerber’s JIL Stable own Mr. Wireless, who was homebred by John and Iveta Kerber.

“John (Kerber), the breeder, is a lot older and our group has gotten to learn from him and jump in on some of his horses,” said Lapczenski, who lives north of Oklahoma City. “He’s actually won the Iowa Derby and the Indiana Derby in the last six days. Bret (Calhoun) called me Monday morning and asked me, ‘What do you think of the spot?’ I said, ‘I think it’s great. There’s only one horse, and they (the public) just basically think we basically have no chance. We know this horse just keeps getting better and better. We were pretty confident.’”

Calhoun, a native of Texas, brought a stable to Hoosier Park in the first few years of pari-mutuel racing in the mid-1990s when he first started training. Since that time, his operation has grown to prominence with numerous Graded Stakes wins, including two in the Indiana Derby.

“I thought this horse was on the improve,” said Calhoun. “I also thought Fulsome was on the improve. I didn’t get to see the replay; I’m not sure what happened to him. I have a lot of respect for that horse. Obviously, I was very concerned about him. I didn’t know how much farther we could go, but he took it to another level today.”

Calhoun continued, “He’s got to keep moving forward. He hasn’t done much wrong in his career. He’s got a really good two-turn record. We don’t think he has any distance limitations. He’s gotten better and better. He’s a horse who was really hard to get to the races, just to get him fit and ready. I know his family pretty good. I’ve trained his family. His sister, Ain’t No Elmers, was the first one. Mentally and physically they were slow developers. He was the same. You have horses like that, a lot of times they just keep getting better and better.”

Hailed as Indiana’s biggest summer sporting event, the Indiana Derby featured numerous ancillary activities, including five $1,000 Indiana Derby Megabet Win Wager drawings. Of the five, only one correctly chose Mr. Wireless as the winner. Charles Beacom of Shreveport, Louisiana, cashed in for nearly $5,000 with the wager, which was sponsored by the Indiana Thoroughbred Alliance.

Soothsay scores in Grade 3 Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand

For the first half of Wednesday evening’s $200,000 Grade 3 Indiana Oaks, the owner and trainer of Soothsay were just hoping to get a piece of the pot in order to cover the cost of shipping from California to Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.

That’s what a bad start will do for you and Soothsay broke in the air and found herself last of nine 3-year-old fillies heading into the far turn. But Soothsay (photo), with a savvy ride from jockey Flavien Prat, turned on the jet engines, flying through the stretch to mow down the competition for a neck victory over 40-1 shot Moon Swag.

Lady Aces was another head back in third and Marion Francis yet another neck back in fourth.

“She was really tense in the gate,” Prat said. “I couldn’t get her to relax. She broke in the air … To be honest, usually when you break like that, it’s pretty much game over – at least for the win. So, I was just trying to regroup, to give her a chance at least in the first turn to save ground. Because the way she broke, I wasn’t able to gain ground. I tried to cut the corner again at the quarter pole, and she really dug in.”

The daughter of Distorted Humor covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.36 while forced to close into a tepid pace set by Lovely Ride, who carved out soft fractions of 24.71, 48.88 and 1:12.44 then weakened to finish fifth. Will’s Secret, the Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher and 2-1 favorite, never seriously threatened in finishing sixth, followed by Sweet Pearl, Malloy and Li’l Tootsie.

Soothsay paid $8.00 to win as the second choice, $4.20 to place and $3.40 to show. Moon Swag, the second-longest shot in the field, returned $20.80 and $11.80, with Lady Aces paying $7.20 to show.

It was the third victory in four lifetime starts, all this year, for Soothsay. That includes a victory in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks in her second start, followed by a second in that track’s Grade 2 Summertime Oaks.

If she didn’t have much seasoning going into the race, Soothsay sure came out a more-seasoned filly. Not only was it her first time racing outside Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella’s Santa Anita Park base, but it was the first time she faced more than three rivals in a stakes (she ran against six horses in her maiden win).

“Well, to be a good sport, I told Flavien, ‘Hey give them guys several lengths and make it a real contest,’” Mandella joked by phone. “No, at that half-mile pole I was praying, ‘Please pick up some money so we can pay some expenses.’ But Flavien Prat showed what a star he’s become. He got off bad. He just sat there so cool, didn’t lose any more ground than he had to. Just such a great ride.

“Her stakes races here were such small fields. It wasn’t like she got a lot of experience. But she sure ran (like she had), other than getting away bad. But I think that was just sitting in the gate a long time. Their patience wears out sometimes, and it looked like that’s what happened, and she kind of just blew when they opened it. But she sure ran like a pro the rest of the way.”

Mandella started getting excited when Soothsay kicked into gear on the far turn.

“When she made that big move around the field going into the second turn, I thought, ‘Boy, that really looks impressive, but I hope she doesn’t come up short from such a big effort to make it up,’” he said. “When she straightened away in the stretch, she looked like she was very composed and still had her act together. The stride and power she has, I felt pretty good at that point.”

Soothsay, who now has earned $431,800 with the $115,200 payday, has already matched the three wins of her mom, the Bernardini mare Spellbound. The winner of Santa Anita’s Grade 2 La Canada, Spellbound also was trained by Mandella and owned by the partnership of Ramona Bass, Adela Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm. Soothsay runs for the Raydeltz Stable of Bass, Dilschneider and Claiborne’s Dell Hancock.

Taylor Cambra, assistant to Mandella, made the journey to Indiana with Soothsay.

“I thought it was going to be a really long drive home,” Hancock said. “But her mother ran like that. Spellbound won the La Canada running like that, so I thought, ‘Well, maybe she’ll be like her mother.’ But I didn’t think it would really happen. When they got to the three-eighths pole and she was really moving. I thought, ‘If she can be third, she can at least pay for the shipping.’ And then we started riding really hard from the quarter pole home. I’m so proud of her. So proud.”

The Brendan Walsh-trained Moon Swag came in off of a third-place finish in a Churchill Downs allowance race easily won by Lovely Ride. Moon Swag closed well from mid-pack under DeShawn Parker to take the Indiana Oaks lead with an eighth-mile to go before getting caught in the final strides.

“Everything went perfect,” Parker said. “I had a good trip from the outside. Turning for home, I felt I had plenty of horse. She tried hard. I thought I had it, but they were running.”

Lady Aces, who also shipped in from California after finishing third in the Summertime Oaks, balked at loading and held up the start. She pushed the early pace and hung in valiantly.

“Normally she’s never like that,” jockey Umberto Rispoli said of the loading difficulties. “She always goes into the gate pretty straight. At the three-eighths pole, she doesn’t give me anything. At the top of the stretch, she switched leads. Once when Flavien came next to me, we had contact with each other, and she just woke up and started to run.”

Trainer Peter Eurton, speaking by phone, said of Lady Aces: “It was such an odd-run race. When the 10 (Moon Swag) came up to her, maybe it bothered her a little bit and it seemed like she lost contact with the race, and here comes Flavien with the favorite and she re-engages herself. I’m just very proud of her. She’s got a lot of growing up to do. She got a little hot, I noticed. For all intents and purposes, it was a very good effort.”

Will’s Secret loomed at the quarter pole but couldn’t sustain any momentum.

“She made a little run up between horses,” said jockey Jon Court. “I thought she was just going to come flying like Flavien Prat’s horse. I thought it would be he and I down the lane with our two fillies. But he went on to win the race, and I just kind of flattened out, ran kind of even. I’m disappointed. I thought she’d be double tough here. Worst-case scenario, I didn’t think she’d be off the board.”

Juddmonte Farms impressed with Fulsome heading into Indiana Derby

A funny thing happened on Fulsome’s way to becoming a turf horse.


After four starts on grass with moderate success, rain at Keeneland forced an allowance onto the sloppy main track. Fulsome splashed home to a 3 1/2-length score and tonight is the odds-on favorite to extend his unbeaten streak on dirt to four races in the $300,000 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino.


Owned by breeder Juddmonte Farms, Fulsome has stepped up each time he’s run on dirt, taking the Oaklawn Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths and Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Matt Winn (photo) by 3 3/4 lengths in his past two starts. Trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux will attempt to win their second straight Indiana Derby, teaming last year with Godolphin’s Shared Sense (who makes his 4-year-old debut in the $85,000 Michael G. Shaefer Memorial on today’s undercard).


“He was a good-looking colt. But the dam had also been a really good-looking mare who didn’t live up to expectations as a racehorse,” said Juddmonte Farms manager Garrett O’Rourke. “She threw some lovely lookers, some of whom were temperamental and also didn’t live up to expectations. So, we started to lower our exceptions, even though he was a nice colt.


“… He did show (stakes) ability on the grass, and luckily it rained a lot in the springtime when he was supposed to run on the grass. He showed a new dimension and hasn’t looked back since. We started to raise our expectations with each run. He’s performed very, very well, especially his last race was a big jump forward. But he’s bred to be a dirt horse, so we shouldn’t have been surprised… He’s just backed up to be what the pedigree suggests he should be.”


Still, it’s understandable that Fulsome started out on grass. His mom, the Distorted Humor mare Flourish, is a half-sister to Juddmonte’s outstanding turf mare and $1.4 million-earner Tates Creek. Of course, another half-sister to Flourish is Sight Seek, a seven-time Grade 1 winner on dirt who earned $2.4 million.


“I think it’s a family that can probably run on turf and dirt,” O’Rourke said. “Until you try them, you don’t know which one they’ll excel the most on. He has a style of running, ironically, that is more similar to a turf style. I’m sure that’s probably what Brad was seeing, because he finishes really, really well. But he finishes better on the dirt, it seems, than he did even on the turf.”


It’s been a bittersweet year for Juddmonte. The farm is having a big year, including Mandaloun’s close second in the Kentucky Derby – which could wind up being a victory if Medina Spirit is disqualified over a medication infraction. Juliet Foxtrot became a Grade-1 winner, and Set Piece recently won Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes.


But there’s also great sadness around the operation after the Jan. 12 death of Juddmonte founder Prince Khalid bin Abdullah.


“The foundation of everything at Juddmonte obviously was built by Prince Khalid,” O’Rourke said. “His goals were always to be competing in the top venues with the top trainers, the top jockeys and as such he gave them top horses. This was a crop of 3-year-olds we felt ran very, very deep. From the time they were foals, we had banked on it as being a special crop. It’s a great tribute to Prince Khalid.”


Fulsome will break from the rail in the field of seven 3-year-olds.


“I hope post doesn’t play a big role in the outcome,” Cox said. “But anytime you’re down on the inside, it’s a little bit of a concern. But Florent has ridden him and got along very well with him in his last run. Hopefully things work out for a good trip and he can get the job done. I’m excited about what he’s done over the last few months, moving forward on the dirt.”


Only one trainer has won back-to-back runnings of the Indiana Derby: Bob Baffert in 2009 (Misremembered) and 2010 (3-year-old champion Lookin at Lucky, the Preakness winner).


Comparing Fulsome to Shared Sense, Cox said: “They’re very comparable. Fulsome might be a horse that is capable of being a little closer to the pace. We found out that Shared Sense just didn’t want to be rushed early, more of a come-from-behind horse. Fulsome probably has a little more speed, being an Into Mischief… We don’t know if Fulsome has reached his full potential yet or not, but both horses are very sound, good movers and seem to be able to handle two turns and beyond a mile and a sixteenth, a mile and an eighth very, very well.”


Cox also will attempt to become the first trainer to win the Indiana Oaks in consecutive years, if Churchill Downs allowance-winner Marion Francis can follow eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil’s Indiana Grand success last year.


“It’s a very deep race,” Cox said of the Indiana Oaks’ field of 11, headed by Kentucky Oaks third-place finisher Will’s Secret and Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks winner Soothsay. “She’s going to have to step up and forward. She’s a very consistent filly that ran a big race last time at Churchill.”


The Indiana Derby was Shared Sense’s first stakes victory. Aspirations for the COVID-delayed Kentucky Derby last year evaporated with a fifth place in the Ellis Park Derby. But Shared Sense rebounded to take the Oklahoma Derby (G3).


“We could have gotten into the Kentucky Derby, but we decided against it,” Cox said. “We pointed for the Oklahoma Derby, and it worked out well.”


The Schaefer is Shared Sense’s first start since a third in Aqueduct’s Nov. 28 Discovery (G3). Cox said the time off was planned simply to give Shared Sense a break after going non-stop for a year.


“It was time to let him drop his head and he a horse for awhile,” he said. “I actually didn’t even nominate him to this race. I supplemented him. I was thinking he’d be ready maybe middle of July, late July. But he just got ready so quick. His works, honestly, have moved forward. He’s worked better than he did as a 3-year-old.”


Shared Sense is the 5-2 favorite in the field of nine, which also includes the Cox-trained Plainsman, winner of his last two races.


Also from the Cox barn: Texas stakes-winner Raven’s Cry in the $85,000 Indiana General Assembly for fillies and mares on turf and Oaklawn allowance-winner Matera in the $85,000 Mari Hulman George Memorial for fillies and mares on dirt.


Matera was a $1.4 million yearling by Tapit who is out of the same mare (Miss Macy Sue) as Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map and the exciting young stallion prospect Not This Time.


Maker seeks another stakes off another claim


Mike Maker has made a career out of turning horses he’s claimed into stakes winners and graded-stakes winners. In the case of Exulting, whom Maker will send out in today’s $85,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial, he’ll try to do it twice with the same horse.


Owner Michael Hui claimed Exulting for $62,500 two years ago, and the gelding promptly won the $250,000 Oaklawn Mile in his first start for trainer Mike Maker. A year later, Hui and Maker lost Exulting in a $10,000 claiming race. Then a year after that, Hui got Exulting back in a $7,500 claiming race.


Exulting is gunning for his first stakes victory since the Oaklawn Mile. He comes into the Schaefer off of three straight wins.


“He was a good claim for him,” Maker said of Exulting and Hui. “Then he was running cheap. We tried to get him back a couple of times and got ‘out-shook.’”


He said, “I’ll retire him if he’s no good. And if he’s good, we’ll keep him. Turned out he’s good.”


Is Exulting as good as this go-round as his first time in the barn?


“I don’t know about that, but he’s pretty good,” Maker said.


Maker also has the 7-year-old Monarchs Glen, a $62,500 claim by Hui in March, in the $85,000 Jonathan B. Schuster for older horses on turf. Stretching him out to 1 1/2 miles in Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Louisville Handicap didn’t work out with Monarchs Glen finishing last of 14. He came back to win a second-level allowance race with an optional $62,500 claiming price. The gelding was in for the “tag,” but no one took him off that last-place performance.


Pirate’s Punch has puncher’s chance


Pirate’s Punch will try to get his mojo back in the $85,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial. The 5-year-old gelding won a pair of Grade 3 stakes at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park last summer to earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.


Louisville-based trainer Grant Forster said he knew going down the backstretch that Pirate’s Punch wasn’t himself that day. Sure enough, he would up having surgery to remove a knee chip after the Breeders’ Cup.


In his only start this year, Pirate’s Punch finished sixth in Monmouth’s Salvatore Mile, a stakes he won in 2020.


“He got a little tired, kind of as expected,” Forster said. “The track was a little dead that day, and he was wide on the first turn. But he got a ton out of it. We’re just trying to get back on our winning ways with him, hopefully on Wednesday. But he’s coming into the race well.


“We’re just building him back slowly to hopefully have a good rest of the year. He’s come back and he’s trained great. We’re looking forward to having him back in on Wednesday. It’s certainly no easy spot for a non-graded stakes. But when you have nice horses you have to run against nice horses.”


Forster also has Microcap in the Mari Hulman George Memorial for fillies and mares. A $30,000 claim in January, Microcap won a Fair Grounds allowance race and most recently was fifth in Churchill Downs’ new Shawnee Stakes.


“We were trying to get her in allowance races, and couldn’t get in,” he said. “We took a swing at the Shawnee. We expected to be on the lead and ground broke away from her when she broke, and she ended up being last. But I expect her to bounce back with a big race. We’re excited about both of them on Wednesday.”

California fillies fly in via FedEx for Indiana Oaks

Air travel for horses has become much more complicated with the Texas Sutton equine charters temporarily shut down. But California’s Soothsay and Lady Aces made their way to Indiana Grand via FedEx for today’s $300,000 Grade 3 Indiana Oaks.


French-born Flavien Prat comes in from California to ride Soothsay and Italian product Umberto Rispoli will be aboard Lady Aces.


Soothsay captured the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks in her second career start, then was second in the track’s Grade 2 Summertime Oaks. She’s trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, who also trained her mama, the graded-stakes winner Spellbound.


“She runs hard every time,” said Taylor Cambra, Mandella’s assistant trainer. “There was really no excuse in her last race. She ran well. She just got beat by a better horse that day. She’s still young and still developing. We’re hoping she still has a lot more gears to her. She’s maturing and growing up. We’ll do our best to keep her fresh, get her ready and see what she’s got.”


Trained by Peter Eurton, Lady Aces finished third in the Summertime Oaks, also in her third start.


“This is a good spot,” said Thomas Dubaele. “There was nothing really in California. Hopefully she’ll like the track. I see it might rain. We don’t have rain, really, in California, so we don’t know how she’ll handle that. She’s training well, eating well, looks happy. She’s a very nice filly. The race came up pretty tough. We’ll take a shot. Umberto really likes this filly, or he wouldn’t come all the way here to ride her.”


Not only will the fillies be facing a new racing surface, they’ll be facing a full field for the first time with the Indiana Oaks attracting 11 entries. By contrast, the Santa Anita and Summertime Oaks had only four starters apiece.