Eric Halstrom is vice president and general manager of Caesar's Horseshoe Indianapolis, a position he's held since 2020. He previously served in several executive positions in horse racing, including vice president of racing at Canterbury Park, vice president and general manager of racing at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, assistant director of racing at Prairie Meadows, and vice president of operations at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.
Halstrom, who graduated from the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program, is a native of Bloomington, MN, and is a die-hard fan of the Minnesota Vikings, Notre Dame Football and all teams for the University of Minnesota. He and his new bride, Kristine, live in Greenwood, IN, and share five children among their blended families.
TDN: What is your racing or bloodstock highlight of the year?
Being at Keeneland for the Breeders' Cup and seeing Flightline in person. I can't believe what that horse was capable of doing.
TDN: Who is your value sire for the 2023 season?
Coming at this as a horseplayer – I like seeing young Jimmy Creed runners. Feels like they're all going to be fast.
TDN: Name one positive change you'd like to see in racing next year?
More focus on two things: What's best for the bettors and what's best for retired racehorses.
TDN: If you could go back in time and see one race in person, what would it be?Easy Goer's win in the Belmont. I was a huge fan and had too much riding on him, both emotionally and financially, to keep Sunday Silence from sweeping the Triple Crown. Watching him win at my young age helped form my passion for the sport.
TDN: If you could only go to one track the rest of your life, where would it be?
Since I can't answer Horseshoe Indianapolis – I'd say Keeneland. I love the area and the beauty of Lexington and the history at the track makes it my favorite place to watch racing.
TDN: Besides Rich Strike, what was the biggest surprise of 2022 in horse racing?
The biggest surprise in my world is that a little track, in the middle of cornfields, in Indiana did nearly a quarter-billion in handle in 2022. If you look back five years ago the thought of getting past $125 million was unrealistic. Lots to be proud of at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
TDN: What was your major takeaway from your successful meet at Horseshoe Indiana?
You can't beat the power of having a great team. We have one at Horseshoe Indianapolis. They're passionate about racing and enjoy working with each other. It's a wonderful place to be as we continue our progression in the industry.
TDN: You can bring back one racetrack from the past, which one would it be and why?
Hialeah. I never had the chance to visit but the stories I hear and pictures I see are incredible. Feels like we probably lost a bit of racing's character when it closed.
TDN: Who was your favorite TDN Rising Star in 2022
Arabian Knight. Saw him at Keeneland and he has a real presence.
TDN: In the next 10 years, what do you think will be the most significant change in racetrack operations and management?
I think we're sitting on technology improvements that will revolutionize racing. It's been gradual but we're now seeing things such as drones, GPS tracking and cameras to check the health of horses. The capital investments on these products and others that will help our sport is coming. It will have to in order to defend our current levels of business much less attract new customers.
TDN: Who is your favorite jockey of all-time?
I've met so many over the years that I now call friends that it's difficult. So I'll go with my dad's favorite… Sandy Hawley. In the early days of Canterbury Downs my dad would bet him blindly and it was easy money. I saw Sandy this summer and mentioned this and he was very gracious and appreciative. A really nice man.
TDN: If you weren't in track management, what would you be doing in horse racing
No question – I'd be betting on horses. I love it. Wish I were better at it so I didn't have to work so much! Going to the track, or just betting the races, with friends and family is may favorite thing in the world.