The Grade 2, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap returns as
the marquee race for the Hawthorne fall thoroughbred season which begins on
Saturday, October 1.
After being run for $250,000 in 2010, the release of funds
from HB 1918 and HB 4758 has allowed an increase in the Gold Cup purse to the
$500,000 level that it has been run at in previous years. The Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup will be
contested on the dirt at 1 ¼ miles on Saturday, October 8. In past years, the Hawthorne Gold Cup has
produced Breeders’ Cup winners Buck’s Boy and Awesome Again, and in recent
years Grade 1 winners Student Council, Awesome Gem and Giant Oak have all run
in the Hawthorne Gold Cup.
A pair of $60,000 overnight stakes will be contested on
October 8 with the running of the Robert F. Carey Memorial and the Indian Maid
Handicap. Each race will be contested on
the turf at 1 1/16 miles with the Carey for three-year-olds and up and the
Indian Maid for fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up.
One week later, on Saturday October 15, the Grade 3
Hawthorne Derby, presented by TVG will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. The race is listed at $175,000, but expected
sponsorship of an additional $25,000 should boost the Derby to $200,000.
On October 22, the Illinois Festival of racing will take
place as six Illinois Restricted races will be run. With the additional funds, Hawthorne and the
Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have given a boost to the
Illinois-bred program by increasing the purses of all six stakes on Festival
Day from $100,000 Added to $125,000 Added.
Closing out the fall meet, a pair of stakes featuring
Illinois-bred two-year-old boys and girls will take place. On December 3, two-year-old fillies will be
featured in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante while one week later the boys
take the stage in the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity. Both races will be contested for a purse of
“The return of the Hawthorne Gold Cup to $500,000 was very
important to us and I was pleased that our horsemen recognized the significance
of this race as well,” stated Hawthorne Assistant General Manager Jim
Miller. “The Gold Cup is the richest
dirt race in Illinois
and consistently sends horses to the Breeders’ Cup. With the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs
this year, Hawthorne is a perfect spot for that
final prep for anything from the Dirt Mile to the Marathon
to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In regards
to the Hawthorne Derby, I feel very strongly that we will find additional
sponsorship for the race to bring the purse to $200,000. TVG has been a great partner of ours and they
have given great focus to both the Illinois Derby (G3) this past spring and the
Hawthorne Derby this fall.”