|Contact: Jim Miller
Looking Back At A Wonderful Meet
On opening day of this year's Hawthorne meeting, things started much as expected as perennial leading rider Mark Guidry guided Brite Venture to a victory in the meet's first race. But following that, the signs of wonderful and surprising moments to come for the meet were about to begin.
In the first week of the meet, the talk was all about the running of the Hawthorne Derby and the Gold Cup. October 7 looked to be a day that belonged to jockey Kent Desormeaux as he was to ride favored Three Wonders in the Derby and heavy favorite Golden Missile in the Gold Cup.
Turning for home in the Derby though, it was Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. aboard Hymn who was in a battle with up and comer Alfredo Juarez Jr. who was aboard Rumsonontheriver. As they crossed the wire, it was too close to call and the Derby turned out to be a dead-heat victory for the both of them.
In the Gold Cup, all the talk was surrounding Golden Missile, 2nd place finisher in 1999 and the 6-5 morning line favorite in this spot. There was also the likes of Mula Gula, Blazing Sword, Puerto Madero and Guided Tour who were getting attention, but things were quiet around the barn of Glenn Hild. His entrant, Dust on the Bottle, was just an oversight to many, a horse that didn't seem to fit. But in the feel-good race of the year, jockey Tim Doocy and Dust on the Bottle came flying along the rail to win the race at 38-1 for owner Sharon Hild and her husband, trainer Glenn. Along with Dust, the second and third place finishers Guided Tour and Golden Missile would go on to the Breeders' Cup Classic.
The following day brought about the first riding triple of the meet as jockey Chris Emigh posted the big day, and from that point on he was to be a formidable force atop the rider standings.
Less than a month into the meet, word came that jockey Mark Guidry was moving his tack to Kentucky. With this move, things became even more wide open and almost anyone could emerge from our group of top riders to grab the lead.
As we neared the end of October, it was separate news that grabbed the headlines as Hawthorne, along with 21 other racetracks, announced their withdrawal from the NTRA. "We believe the direction we're heading is going to be better for Illinois racing in general, and for Hawthorne Race Course specifically," stated Hawthorne President Thomas F. Carey, Sr.
In the final stake of October, one of the most impressive milers of 2000 turned in a top effort as Where's Taylor galloped home to victory in the 18th running of the Grade 3 Robert F. Carey Memorial.
Heading into November, the story around the track had to be the riding of apprentice jockey Zoe Cadman. Less than six months into her professional riding career, Zoe was atop the standings and was to remain in contention until her departure in late December. Even though she missed the final two weeks of the meet, she sewed up third place in the jock standings and consideration for national apprentice rider of the year.
November 11 brought out one of the top figures in racing and the "Voice of Chicago Racing" Phil Georgeff returned to Hawthorne to witness the Illinois Festival of Racing, which was named after him. With huge efforts put in all around that day, two horses laid their claim to Illinois-bred of the year. Richard Trebat's Chicago Six was impressive in winning the Illinois Coronet Handicap and Nancy and Harvey Vanier's Wade For Me retired on a top note as she was victorious in the Illini Princess.
Chicago Six was to return one more time for 2000 as he and entry-mate Muchacho Fino were sent post-ward as the favorite for the Cisk Stakes in late November. This race turned out to be one of the most exciting of the year as the Jere Smith, Sr. trained duo battled nose-and-nose through the lane and they couldn't be split at the wire, dead-heat victors for their trainer.
Entering December, things were still very heated for the trainer and jockey standings as Hugh Robertson, Harvey Vanier and Mike Reavis were all very close for top trainer, and along with Emigh and Cadman were Larry Sterling Jr., Chris Valovich and Randy Meier in the jockey race. Both would be taken all the way to the wire as Reavis holds a narrow edge over Robertson and Emigh leads Sterling heading into our final day of racing.
And overall for the 2000 meet, great stories and efforts across the board. We here at Hawthorne would like to thank everyone that is involved with the great product we put out every racing day. Special thanks have to be given to the owners, trainers, jockeys and the athletes themselves, the Thoroughbreds that show all heart every time they head to the track. And finally, we would like to thank the fans. Without you, our business doesn't run and you have been great all year. We are excited about our split meet next year and look forward to seeing everyone again when racing returns here on May 1.
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