Day At The Track

Stewart steps up for charity at Hoosier Park

02:14 AM 31 May 2011 NZST
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Charlie Stewart
Charlie Stewart - at cheque presentation.

Hoosier Park's leading harnss racing trainer Charlie Stewart increased the incentive for the Celebrity Standardbred Drivers in the Thrillyard 200 during Dan Patch Night Saturday, May 28. Stewart donated his entire training percentage for the week leading up to Dan Patch Night to the winning driver of the race, adding an extra $890 to Trent Stohler's charity St. John's Children's Clinic.

Rachel McLaughlin and Hannah Gentry from the Race Marketing department assisted in the check presentation.

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.”

In addition to Stewart’s donation, Stohler pulled in $2,000 for St. John’s Children’s Clinic with his win in the Thrillyard 200 behind Mattsamack. Trace Tetrick, who drove Boiler Bones to a second place finish, added $1,000 to his charity D.A.R.E. while Brandon Bates driving Alias Smitty finished third and added another $750 to Second Harvest Food Bank.

Remaining drivers in the race raising charitable funds were Mike Peterson, who pulled in $500 for Shriner’s Hospital for Children and Jason Dillander, who won $250 for the American Cancer Society, and Peter Wrenn, winning $200 for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Ricky Macomber (Indiana School for the Deaf), Josh Sutton (Animal Protection League) and Joe Putnam (Outfitter’s Inc.) each pulled in $100 for their organizations.

Earlier in the week, Putnam won the Little Hoosier Park 500 at Anderson Speedway, an exhibition race with all nine of the Celebrity Standardbred drivers in Thunder Roadster racecars. Putnam won $2,000 for Outfitters with his efforts on the asphalt oval over Bates, who won $1,000 for Second Harvest Food Bank. All other drivers added the additional $2,000 in charitable money to their organizations.

Tammy KNOX

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