All good things must come to an end and the Hawthorne spring meet is no exception. However we must all tip our hats to the great job that the guys on the south side did over the last three months. We had great racing, full fields, fun and adventures, and the best of Illinois racing on display. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane…
- 56 = number of wins for leading rider Francisco Torres
- 42 = number of wins for leading trainer Roger Brueggemann
- ¾ = number of miles in six furlongs
- 26 = number of wins for leading owner Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc.
- $20,000 = amount donated to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund by Midwest Thoroughbreds!
- 10/3/12 = date at which Hawthorne racing returns
- $334 = amount I won on my first pick 4 ever (at Hawthorne of course)
- $7,500 = amount donated to Galloping Out by Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc!
- 7.23 = number of starters per race in 2011
- 8.16 = number of starters per race in 2012! WHOA
- $484,632 = amount of increased handle average per day!
- 1:40PM = normal starting post time
- 3.14 = pi
Good. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s take a look back at the events that shaped the spring meet.
Hawthorne announced some very exciting news to start off the spring meet. First, they added new box seating on the main level. I watched the progress of the boxes being built and they look great! They also launched the mobile application to give fans a better, and more paperless, wagering experience. Speaking of wagering experience, they added the $0.50 pick 4 wager and it was a huge hit. Heck even I played it! Then to top it all off, they brought back the Sixty Sails Handicap (more on that later)!
Jim Miller and crew also worked with TVG to provide a clean signal direct to their studios in California. This provided a much better viewing experience of Hawthorne on TVG and the picture looked amazing.
Then in early March I had an opportunity to not only tour the back stretch with Jim, but I also got to see how a race card is put together. This was such a great day for me as I really got to see some of the inner-workings of how a race track is run. While it may not have helped my handicapping overall, it did show me that there are a ton of hard-working people making it happen for all of us. It truly gave me a deeper appreciation for the sport! April marked the time for Chicago to provide it’s only Kentucky Derby prep race. The 2012 edition of the Illinois Derby was won by 13-1 long shot Done Talking. This horse is entered and will be running on the first Saturday in May! This day was special to me as well as it was the first time I did any real journalistic work and got to interview jockey Julien Pimentel after the race! Also, any time you can hang out with writer extraordinaire Claire Novak and the best blogger in the nation Brian Zipse, it is a great day. Four days after the great Illinois Derby marks a day that I would normally want to forget. You see I was absolutely destroyed by Jim in his weekly handicapping contest. I mean it wasn’t even close. He wanted revenge for when I was the victor last fall and well, he got it big time. Ok enough. You would think that the day would have been a huge bummer, except that I got to spend time with track announcer Peter Galassi for a few races! He is a class gentleman and was very accommodating; allowing me to record how a race is called and document the experience with photos. I was able to see how difficult calling a race is to do. Finally, we wrapped up the meet with two weekends worth of stakes races. First, She’s All In runs away with the Sixty Sails Handicap, then on the final weekend we featured the best of Illinois racing on Champions Day. Dominating performances by River Bear, Report Card, and jockey Francisco Torres capped off a most amazing day.
I want to give a HUGE thank you to Jim Miller, Peter Galassi, Gary Duch, Ron Uchman, Dave Miller, Jimmy the camera guy, Francisco Torres, Danush Sukie, Rosemary Homeister Jr., and the Carey family for making this experience something I will never forget!