Increased purses, larger fields,
great weather and placement of races led to a very strong spring thoroughbred
meet at Hawthorne as the season concluded on Sunday. With the release of the impact fee funds
prior to the start of last fall’s thoroughbred meet, an increase in overnights
of 50% helped to keep more horsemen on the grounds through the winter dark
period in preparation for the spring meet.
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 racing day period. The
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 for an average daily onsite handle of $101,864. 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.
In 2011, the lessened purses and
horse population allowed for 359 races to be run with 2,597 starters for an
average field size of 7.23 starters per race.
Due to an extremely rainy season in 2011, there were no races run on the
turf last spring. This spring, the increased
purses and improved weather allowed for 33 turf races to be run and a total of
371 races contested. A total of 3,027
horses started for an average field size of 8.16 starters per race.
On the meet, the combination of
jockey Francisco Torres, trainer Roger Brueggemann and owner Midwest
Thoroughbreds, Inc took the respective titles.
After returning to Hawthorne last November, business picked up for
Torres quickly as this spring he won a total of 56 races for over $1.2 million
in purses. Second in the standings was
Tim Thornton with 35 wins, followed by a three way tie for third between
Constantino Roman, Florent Geroux and apprentice Alejandro Contreras with 23
Trainer Roger Brueggemann took home
the training title, posting 42 wins from 143 starters for the meet. The 64% in the money rate for Brueggemann was
the top amongst trainers along with the $923,743 in earnings. Second in the standings was Frank Kirby with
24 wins, followed by John Haran with 19 winners on the meet.
Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc., of Rich
and Karen Papiese, were the meet’s leading owners with 26 wins from 100
starters for $674,342 in earnings.
Second was Hondo Ranch of Frank and Sharon Kirby with 10 wins followed
by Eagle Valley Farm of John Haran with 7 wins.
As a great gesture to our riders and thoroughbred horses, Midwest
Thoroughbreds donated $20,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund and
$7,500 to Galloping Out, the thoroughbred retirement program in Illinois, upon
their acceptance as leading owner for the spring.
The meet was highlighted by the
running of the Grade 3, $500,000 TVG Illinois Derby. Done Talking got up in the final strides to
win the Illinois Derby on his way to a trip to Louisville on the first Saturday
in May for trainer Hamilton Smith. The
Grade 3, $200,000 Sixty Sails Handicap returned to the stakes schedule and saw
an impressive victory from She’s All In for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. Illinois Champions Day concluded the stakes
schedule for the spring, highlighted by wins from Third Chance in her return
and the gutsy River Bear in the most impressive effort on the stakes card.
“This was an extremely important
meet for Hawthorne,” stated Hawthorne President and General Manager Tim
Carey. “We took it upon ourselves to do
everything possible to ensure that this spring was a success. The support of our horsemen was tremendous
and a very mild winter helped. We
embarked on a very aggressive marketing push which was capped by the first ever
showing of the Illinois Derby on WGN and the fans responded by coming out to
the track. Having larger fields is always
important and that is a credit to our horsemen who had their horses ready to
run from the start of the meet. TVG has
also been a great partner. Their
increased coverage drove handle to Hawthorne and we are so pleased to have them
as partners for the TVG Illinois Derby and thank them for great coverage all
meet long. Overall, this meet showed us
and the entire industry that with increased purses, the horses will be there
and we can raise the interest for racing in Illinois this year and for years to
Live racing returns to Hawthorne on
Wednesday, October 3 and concludes on December 31. In the fall, racing will take place every
Wednesday through Sunday. First post
daily for the fall will be 1:40 PM with the exception of Fridays when the first
post time is 3:00 PM. Hawthorne race
course is located in Stickney IL at 3501 S. Laramie Ave.