Welcome Back! It’s
been five long months since real dirt track racing took place in the Chicago
Metro area and fans and bettors across the country have been awaiting this
day. The Hawthorne
fall thoroughbred meet opens Friday with a 2:10
PM post and a nine race card of full fields. For the 9 races on Friday 102 horses were
entered with full fields of 12 entered in 5 of the nine races.
Not only does Hawthorne
feature a dirt track but we also have the second longest stretch in North
America and we’ll be making use of it with five day a week racing
this fall, running live Wednesday through Sunday with a 2:10
PM Post daily. Turf racing
should continue well into November, giving savvy bettors and pedigree experts
the chance to play great racing action on both surfaces. In addition, racing action from Hawthorne
will televised daily on TVG with onsite coverage from Hawthorne for the Grade
2, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup on the meet’s second day.
Friday might be opening day but we jump into major stakes
action quickly at Hawthorne. Saturday brings the 76th running
of the Grade 2, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup which has turned into a major prep
for multiple Breeders’ Cup races and looks to draw a stellar field once
again. Multiple Graded stakes winner
Alternation headlines the prospective runners for the Gold Cup which also
includes Cease and Nate’s Mineshaft among others. The Gold Cup will be run as the 8th
race on the Saturday card and will be drawn on Wednesday morning.
The supporting card for the Gold Cup is also strong with a
pair of $100,000 turf events on that day with the Indian Maid Handicap for the
girls and the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap for the boys. Those races will sandwich the Hawthorne Gold
Cup as part of a great late Pick 4 sequence.
As a whole, the stakes schedule gets a fresh look for the
fall meet. Following opening weekend, Hawthorne
will offers stakes races every weekend in October, splitting up the Illinois
Festival of racing to better prepare Illinois
horses. On October 13th,
three-year-old turf runners will take to the grass in the Grade 3, $200,000
Hawthorne Derby. The following week,
state-bred sprinters are the focus in the Powerless Handicap and Lightning Jet
Handicap. On October 27th,
older state-bred turf runners compete on the grass in the Illini Princess
Handicap and Buck’s Boy Handicap. The
weekend after Breeders’ Cup, November 10, will feature two-year-old state-bred
runners in the Showtime Deb and Sun Power Stakes. To close out the meet, juvenile fillies will
go two-turns in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante on December 1 and the boys
will run a route on December 8 in the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity. All of the Illinois-bred stakes will carry
purses of $125,000.
Jockey Francisco Torres is back after winning the riding
title at Hawthorne
in the spring. Roger Brueggemann has a
large contingent of horses as he looks for a repeat of his training title as
well. Additionally, the nation’s leading
owner, Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. of Richard and Karen Papiese are closing in
on the national record for victories in a season as they look for a repeat of
the owner’s title at Hawthorne. Both Torres and Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc.
enter the fall meet coming off winning titles at Arlington
Park this summer.
This spring, Hawthorne
saw an increase in total handle of nearly $20 million as $92,109,865 was
wagered on the Hawthorne
live product compared to $72,239,975 in the 2011 spring meet over the same 41
day period. That handle total translated
to a 27.5% increase with an average daily handle of $2,246,582 compared to
$1,761,950 for a daily increase of $484,632 per racing day. Onsite handle for the spring meet was
$4,176,448, an increase of over $700,000 compared to the $3,475,224 wagered in
2011. The onsite increase for the meet
was 20%. In state handle increased 9.2%
while out of state handle was up over 30% for the spring meet.
“We are very excited for this fall meet and we expect to
continue the momentum we started with such a strong spring meet,” stated
Hawthorne Assistant General Manager Jim Miller.
“The horsemen are happy to be back and have shown their support by
filling the entry box for opening day.
Our track crew has done another great job preparing the dirt surface and
horses look great training over it. We
want to expose as many fans to Hawthorne
on the air with our great partners at TVG and want to get as many fans in the
door by offering them admission, which includes a program, for only $4. With a full backside of horses, we are able
to race five days a week and are expecting big things this fall at Hawthorne.”
Live racing returns to Hawthorne on Friday, October 5 and
concludes Sunday, December 30. Live
racing will be conducted every Wednesday-Sunday. First post daily is 2:10
PM. Hawthorne Race Course is
located in Stickney IL
at 3501 S. Laramie Ave. For information on live racing or groups at
Hawthorne Race Course, contact Hawthorne
at 708-780-3700 or visit Hawthorne
online at Hawthorneracecourse.com.