Indiana Grand Gets New Starter
Steve Peterman hired as new starter.
August 4, 2014
Steve Peterman has joined the team at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino as starter. Peterman brings in more than 27 years of experience in his field and has already begun his position as the track’s official starter effective July 10. Peterman replaces John Jamison, who left late in July to become the track superintendent at Lone Star Park in Texas.
A native of Belleville, Illinois, Peterman was introduced to horse racing at an early age. His father, Steve Peterman, used to work on the gates at Fairmount Park and the now defunct Cahokia Downs. His father then moved over in the industry as a trainer and later served as a jock’s agent. His experience proved to be a good foundation for the younger Peterman to get into the horse racing industry.
“I started off working for my father in the barn, but didn’t like it, so he suggested I go to the gates and work part time,” said Peterman. “When I was 23 years old, I went to Oaklawn and worked as an assistant starter for eight years and learned under Tom Wagner. He had a circuit worked out between Oaklawn, Churchill and Keeneland in the fall. And in the gap, we schooled horses three days a week.”
Peterman eventually relocated to Louisville, Kentucky, and made the city his home base. In 2006, he became the official starter at Turfway Park which led to a five-year stint in the same capacity at Ellis Park. Last year, he accepted the position at Calder Race Course and fulfilled the starter duties for the track for a little more than one year before relocating to Indiana Grand this July.
“I love being a starter,” said Peterman. “I love working with the horses and trying to figure them out. The people are great here (at Indiana Grand) and I feel fortunate to have this job.”
Peterman and his wife, Mary, will eventually relocate to the Shelbyville, Indiana, area. During his time in Louisville, he became a big supporter of the basketball and football programs at University of Louisville, one of his passions outside of the track. The couple has three grown children, daughter Jordan Dennison, who is working in Louisville, son Alex Peterman, who is in the Army National Guard in Louisville and Mitch Dennison, who is an assistant trainer for Steve Asmussen and is currently located at Indiana Grand.
When asked about what one of the most important things about being a starter is, Peterman replied, “Knowing the horses and teaching them in the mornings. A lot of these horses have schooled with me or I have okayed them in the gates. That is how it pays off in the afternoon (or evening) during the races. I have a very good crew at Indiana Grand and they are very experienced. They all work very well together, which is important.”
Peterman’s day begins at 7 a.m. as he joins his crew at the gates for morning training hours until 10 a.m. Then, he is back for the races Tuesday through Saturday. The crew also works the gates on Monday mornings, leaving only Sunday as a non-working day.
Peterman made International headlines in March 2013 when he was able to track down a one-eyed horse, Joseph the Catfish, that had bolted from the track at Turfway Park and had made its way across several major roads to the southbound ramp of Interstate 75. Peterman, who had just left the track and was heading home, saw the horse and began his pursuit of the scared animal. After the horse was prevented from going on I-75 by others from the track, Peterman found himself in the path of the horse on the southbound ramp coming back down. He reached out and grabbed the reins of the runaway horse and brought him to a stop, preventing what could have been a disastrous ending to both the horse and nearby motorists.
Peterman was interviewed about the incident from media outlets as far away as England. He was honored at Turfway Park for his heroism that day and his commitment to both his job and the horse racing industry.
“I really don’t have any other hobbies,” said Peterman. “I love my job and love horse racing.”
Live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing continues through Saturday, November 1, offering racing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2:05 p.m. with Friday and Saturday action beginning at 5:05 p.m. For more information, visit the website at indianagrand.com.
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