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Hawthorne Turns Focus to the Future

STICKNEY, IL In the wake of the recent ruling by the Illinois Racing Board's decision to deny Hawthorne Racecourse a standard-bred meeting and split the thoroughbred meeting in two, a focus towards the future is being put into motion by Director of Operations, Thomas F. Carey III. "The schedule we have received is unfortunate, but we need to focus our energy on the future," stated Carey. "This is a radical change to the dates that have been handed out in the past. This poses a significant challenge to our establishment, but I relish the opportunity to prove Hawthorne's worth within the ranks of racing in Illinois."

Another major component lost in the mix is the month of October, which was awarded to Arlington International. "Losing October was very disappointing for us because we now lose our traditional spot on the calendar for the Gold Cup. Over the course of the past three years, this race has proven to be a very good prep for the Breeders' Cup races," Carey noted. "We are now put in a position of having to find a suitable spot where this race can be most beneficial to not only Hawthorne, but thoroughbred racing on a national scene as well."

Included within the thoroughbred dates awarded to Hawthorne is the running of the Triple Crown races in May and June. Lost though is the Breeders' Cup, which is to be run on Oct. 27, 2001. "Opening our meet in conjunction with the lead into the Kentucky Derby and closing just after the running of the Belmont is very exciting," Carey added. "We have an excellent opportunity to showcase our product throughout the United States in this time period. As racing fans are drawn to the track in anticipation of the Triple Crown events, the option of full-card simulcasting will be a focus to those fans. This will benefit Hawthorne as we offer some of the fullest fields in America which appeals to the wagering public."

The denial of Hawthorne's request for a summer standard-bred meeting by the racing board did leave some shaking their heads, but the drive to return harness racing to the Suburban Downs oval will not end here. "Hawthorne invested over $2 million in an effort to return standard-bred racing to our track with the installation of the hub-less rail and a state-of-the-art lighting system," Carey said. "As stated by Tony Morgan (President of the Illinois Harness Horseman's Association) during the dates hearing, the harness horsemen were very satisfied with our improvements and had no problem with returning racing to Hawthorne. Its unfortunate that we were not given dates for the 2001 season, but we have already begun our look forward to harness racing returning to Hawthorne in the near future."

In closing, Carey states, "We are very optimistic as to what our impact on Illinois racing will be. There is no doubt that we have many obstacles to overcome, but we will look towards overcoming those obstacles in a very positive and energetic manner."

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