SHELBYVILLE, IN—NOVEMBER 09, 2020—It’s been another stellar season for the Randy Smith Stable at Indiana Grand. The track’s all-time leading Quarter Horse trainer earned his sixth straight title and those associated with his barn swept the other categories for Quarter Horse racing during the 2020 racing season.
Horses from the Smith Stable won 54 races during the abbreviated 96-day racing season with total purse money in excess of $1.4 million. Both tallies eclipsed the records set by Smith during the 2015 racing season, which included 120 racing days, making the new records even more impressive. Smith also won seven races on the Saturday, Oct. 3 racing program, which matched the record he set in 2015, a mark that is the most for any trainer of any breed in one racing program at Indiana Grand.
"You always come into a meet and you always hope for a good year," said the modest Smith, who hails from Broughton, Ill. "As it always is, good help that cares will make you shine. Plus, having good owners is always a big boost too."
While Smith was breaking records in the training category, his first call rider, Sammy Mendez, was doing the same in the jockey standings. The native of Puebla Tehuacan Puebla, Mexico set a new record for most wins in one season by a Quarter Horse jockey with 36 wins and most purse earnings in one year at $890,331. It marks the first title for the young Mendez, who is only in his second year of riding at Indiana Grand.
"I was very happy the whole meet and thank Mr. Randy (Smith) for giving me the opportunity to ride," said Mendez. "This is my first title and I’m very excited. If I had to choose a best moment, it would be riding Louisiana Lover because he is a tough horse that tries every time he’s on the track."
Mendez began riding in 2014 and followed his brothers, Cruz and Santiago Mendez, into the Quarter Horse business. Both ride at Los Alamitos and that is where Mendez was before he made the move to the Midwest to join forces with the Smith Stable last year. He and his wife, Vicki, have five children, Vanessa, Louis, Christopher, Ruby and Julieta. Mendez has been a welcomed addition to Indiana.
"I was a little concerned at the start because of the rider situation (shortage due to Covid-19 restrictions) but Sammy (Mendez) really stepped up to the plate and helped us get through it," added Smith. "He’s done a great job for our barn this season."
One of the horses that stood out in Smith’s barn this year was Louisiana Lover, who was named 2020 Leading Quarter Horse of the Meet. The award, presented by the Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana (QHRAI), was earned by the three-year-old son of The Louisiana Cartel, who won five of seven starts and in excess of $189,000 for owner Brian Gunder. In addition, Louisiana Lover won two stakes, the $119,000 Sterlie Bertram Memorial and the $125,000 Blue River Derby.
Joining Louisiana Lover as a top performer for the Smith Stable was WRs Apolliticalivory, who went undefeated in five starts for owners Gwen and Randy Williams of Williams Racing Stable, including two stakes victories in the $122,000 QHRAI Derby and the $100,000 Indiana Grand QHRAI Derby. The Williams had an outstanding season at the track, earning 13 wins to be awarded leading owner of the meet.
Hailing from LaCenter, Ky., Williams Racing Stable scored their first leading Quarter Horse title at Indiana Grand. The multiple Graded Stakes winning owners also tied the record for most wins in one season by a Quarter Horse owner, equaling Tony Cunningham’s tally of 13 set in 2016. Other standouts for the Williams in 2020 included WRs Valentino and WRs Moonin Thewagon. They are now among the track’s top 10 all-time leading Quarter Horse owners with 33 career wins. With their massive breeding operation, they will have several prospects to send Smith for next year’s racing season.
Smith and his wife, Debbie, constructed a training center just minutes from Indiana Grand several years ago. They generally head to a warmer climate during the winter months to break babies and get ready for next season, but Smith hasn’t determined where they will go yet.
"It’s still up in the air," said Smith. "Last year, we went to Florida, but we haven’t decided yet."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, which is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corporation (NASDAQ: CZR), holds multiple awards for customer service, entertainment, gaming, dining, and diversity. Located in Shelbyville, Ind., Indiana Grand features more than 2,100 of the latest slots and table games in addition to a one-mile dirt racecourse and a seven-eighths mile turf course providing live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing each year. Simulcast and sports wagering is also offered year-round at Winner's Circle Race Sports Pub located on the casino floor as well as a Winner's Circle Race Sports Pub located in Clarksville, Ind. For more information, please visit www.IndianaGrand.com.
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