It seems like we just finished a race meet but we have been
idle nearly six weeks as live racing returns to Hawthorne Friday. In the fall,
we closed with temperatures in the 50’s and a thawing racing surface. Since
then we have had record snowfall and dropping temps. What has remained
consistent, however, is the fine work the track crew has done with only four
days of training missed, in total, during the six dark weeks despite over 30
inches of total snowfall during that period.
When racing returns Friday, some of the things that racing fans became
accustomed to in the fall return. We will have Fan Friendly Fridays, fields in
February will be full, and we expect Tim Thornton and Tanner Riggs to contend
for the riding title once again. Due to a fine fall meet, one major improvement
that will benefit all Horsemen is higher purse levels than last fall and last
spring. There will be more races offered for more quality horses and we are
keeping our fingers crossed that Mother Nature will be kind and we will see two
to three weeks of turf racing in April.
Racing kicks off Friday with a nine race card with 97 horses entered in the
body of the races. Many familiar names will be seen on the program with jockeys
Thornton and Riggs, joined by Eddie Perez, Brandon Meier, Julio Felix, and
Inosencio Diego. After a great start to last fall, Jozbin Santana returns to
Hawthorne and will be joined in the jockey colony by Seth Martinez, a strong
rider familiar to many who have followed Hawthorne in the past, and Constantino
Roman, a bug boy looking to have a breakthrough meet.
Trainer Joel Berndt is loaded with strong runners and ready to try to defend
his training title. Defending his title won’t be easy though as Frank Kirby,
Mike Reavis, Jamie Ness, Chris Dorris, Brian Williamson, and Roger Brueggemann
are all stocked and ready as well. Look for fall newcomer George Leonard to
make his mark and expect an improved meet from Steve Manley and Ralph Martinez
The fall meet’s leading owner, Midwest Thoroughbreds, will also have a string
of horses at Hawthorne
for trainers Brueggemann and Jamie Ness.
After our Friday opener, major days on the schedule for the spring are
Saturday, April 9th, with the running of the Grade 3 Illinois Derby – Presented
by TVG, a race that has sent the last nine winners to the Kentucky Derby. On
Saturday, April 23, Illinois Champions Day will take place, featuring six
stakes races for Illinois-breds, each worth $100,000 apiece.
In addition to the return of our Fan Friend Fridays, with $2 specials on
admission and program, along with food and beer specials, another favorite of
fans returns with our online Survivor Contest. The free contest begins February
18th and fans can sign up now at www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.
Our racing schedule has changed a bit this spring. While we are open every day
for simulcasting, in February we will race live on Friday and Saturday,
providing weekend cards with full fields. In March and April, racing will take
place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. First post daily will be
1:30 PM every day.
On the air, Track Handicapper and Analyst Jim Miller will get some daily
assistance from jockey Inez Karlsson for the daily pre-race show and some
between race analysis. Inez is currently taking some time off from riding as
she is due with her first child this summer, but her insight and experience
will be an added bonus to racing fans as they handicap the day’s races.
For those who can’t make it out to the track, Jim Miller will join Joe
Kristufek on www.HorseplayerNow.com
as the duo previews and reviews racing action from Hawthorne. Fans can not only get insight into
the action at Hawthorne,
but they can join in as well with selections and questions as we look to
provide the most information possible. For a schedule of live racing chats and
Monday Night School chats, please visit the HorseplayerNow website.
popular onsite handicapping contests are back with the first of the meet taking
place tomorrow. For the first time, these contests will send six winners to the
NTRA Handicapping Championship in Las
Vegas. For full contest information, visit Guest
Services or our website.
“We are coming off a year where we turned the corner,” stated Assistant General
Manager Jim Miller. “We were up in total handle on each meet and we able to put
ourselves in a much better position in regards to purses. While we aren’t there
yet, we are able to offer higher purses for our horsemen this spring with a
better mix of races as well. I expect another strong meet and expect positive
figures once again when we finish in the end of April.”
Hawthorne Race Course is in its 102nd year of racing under Carey family
races Friday and Saturday in February, beginning February 11th. In March and
April, live racing will take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and
Saturday through the end of April. First post daily is 1:30 PM. For more
information on racing at Hawthorne,
visit our website at www.Hawthorneracecourse.com