Study racing facility before sprinting ahead

Every weekend from mid-April through mid-October, there’s an event at Hoosier Horse Park in Johnson County Park.

Activities include a variety of clinics, horse shows, dressage lessons and competitions, and three-day eventing competitions.

Now Johnson County parks department personnel are researching and studying the feasibility of a half-mile horse track that horse owners could use to train for and compete in horse racing leagues. If built, the horse track would be the 10th facility on the Indiana Standardbred’s schedule and would host about five events per year.

The track would give the Indiana Standardbred Association a venue similar to ones at county fairgrounds across the state. The park would be used for training, standardbred harness racing and quarter-mile horse racing. The facility would have barns, stables and a veterinarian facility.

The track would be solely for Indiana Standardbred Association races and would not allow betting.

The group views Johnson County as a prime location for events and initially looked at the Johnson County fairgrounds in Franklin, but there wasn’t enough room, according to Jack Kieninger, president of the Indiana Standardbred Association.

“We’re an advocate of (the proposed track); there’s no question about that,” Kieninger said. “It would be a perfect fit.”

But county officials first want to know how much the facility would cost to build, staff and maintain.

Their caution is warranted. The endeavor has promise, but the county is in no position to underwrite it. The project would have to be self-sustaining.

Hoosier Horse Park is one of Johnson County’s less-widely-known assets, and adding a standardbred training facility would enhance its reputation and attract even more visitors.

But the finances need to be worked out thoroughly in advance. If you’ll pardon the phrase, the county can’t afford to put this cart before the horse.

At issue

A standardbred horse training facility has been suggested for Hoosier Horse Park at Johnson County Park.

Our point

County officials need to make sure the financing is well established before proceeding with the project.