Day At The Track

Charlie Stewart donates training percentage

08:27 AM 26 May 2011 NZST
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Charlie Stewart
Charlie Stewart

Hoosier Park's leading harness racing trainer - Charlie Stewart is increasing the incentive for the Celebrity Standardbred Drivers in the Thrillyard 200. Stewart will donate his entire training percentage for the entire week leading up to Dan Patch Night Saturday, May 28 to the winning driver's charity of the race.

Stewart has been averaging more than three wins per week and has 26 wins in the first 40 nights of racing. The native of Alexandria, Ind. has been observing the efforts of the Fab Five and the other drivers involved in fundraising this season and wanted to get involved.

“I think the drivers and Hoosier Park are doing such a great job with the charities this season,” said Stewart. “So, I thought I needed to do something to help out also.”

Stewart grew up around horses but it was a trip a mile down the road from his house that gave him an introduction to harness racing.

“Modie Beeman lived about a mile down the road from me when I was growing up,” said Stewart. “My mom was always pushing me to ride in 4-H but I’ve always been more interested in driving. We had a Belgium and I’d hook him up and drive him. That’s what got me interested in harness racing.”

Stewart began cleaning stalls for Beeman and eventually found his way to Hoosier Park. At the age of 16, he went to work for Dick and Ricky Macomber, a move that would later inspire his maroon, gold, and black racing colors.

“Ricky and Dick both became family to me,” said Stewart. “They took me under their wing and I worked for them for five or six years.”

While working for the Macomber Stable, Stewart took care of one of their stars, Swinging Glory. The Florida-bred was even a starter in the 2004 Dan Patch Invitational.

“He is probably the classiest horse I’ve ever seen,” said Stewart. “He didn’t have the greatest breeding, but he tried so hard every race.”

Stewart now has one horse in his barn that he is partial to. Queenies Alibi has been first or second five of seven starts this year at Hoosier Park.

“She (Queenies Alibi) is just tougher than nails,” said Stewart. “She just keeps coming back every week and racing well.”

Stewart came out of the gate this year strong, leading the charge for leading trainer from the start of the meet. He currently has a 12-win lead over his next closest competitor, but his focus is more on his stable rather than the standings.

“It feels good to be doing well, but I don’t really realize it,” said Stewart. “I’ve had owners this year put faith in me, and I’m just glad I’m doing so well for them. The horses have given me a lot, so I’m hoping the horses can help someone else out like they have helped me this year.”

Stewart says his weekly training percentage has been averaging right at $1,000 a week. He’s hoping the week of Tuesday, May 24 through Saturday, May 28 will also have a similar turnout.

The Fab Five, The Champion, and The Challengers will compete against each other in the Thrillyard 200, set as race six on the Dan Patch 14-race program. Drivers drew post positions along with the horses entered in the race. The winning driver will add $2,000 plus the donation from Stewart into their account for their selected charity.

The Fab Five involved in the Thrillyard 200 are Ricky Macomber, driving for the Indiana School for the Deaf, Trace Tetrick, who represents D.A.R.E., Jason Dillander, who chose American Cancer Society, Joe Putnam, who raises funds for Outfitters, Inc., and Mike Peterson for Shriner’s Hospital for Children. Joining the Fab Five is The Champion Peter Wrenn, who chose St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and Challengers Trent Stohler for St. John’s Children’s Clinic, Brandon Bates, who raises funds for Second Harvest Food Bank, and Josh Sutton representing the Animal Protection League.

The Celebrity Standardbred Drivers also participated in an exhibition car race at Anderson Speedway earlier in the week. A total of $5,000 was allotted to the drivers for their charitable efforts in the 10-lap race in Thunder Roadsters. The “Little Hoosier Park 500” will be shown in between races on Dan Patch Night.

Tammy KNOX

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