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Horse slaughter in Illinois
|Hawthorne Racecourse (1/16/08)
Contact: Mitch Demick (708) 222-4542
Strong Close Caps Hawthorne Fall Meet
Stickney, IL – Buoyed by 10 extra races days in January, Hawthorne Race Course closed its fall/winter Thoroughbred meet with encouraging results and a positive outlook towards the future.
Weather-related cancellations cost Hawthorne the equivalent of about two racing days, but the 81 other programs offered numerous highlights, both in racing and in human interest.
Handle numbers for the fall meet were boosted by a strong finish. An added two weeks of racing in January produced a very positive start to the Illinois racing scene in 2008. Average daily handle on-site for the fall meet was down slightly, as Hawthorne averaged $138,463/day in 2007, compared to $149,160/day in 2006. Out-of-state figures were nearly equal with 2007 averages of $2,288,462/day, down slightly from the $2,308,083 posted in 2006. The good news looking forward in 2008 was the final two weeks of racing. The first two weeks of January that replaced the traditional spring start of the end of February and beginning of March provided great results. In the final two weeks of the meet, total handle was up 22 percent, with out-of-state numbers rising 27 percent above the levels compared with the traditional spring start.
“I’m very pleased with our fall Thoroughbred meet,” stated Hawthorne President Tim Carey. “Like many tracks, we are facing a large movement of wagering to ADWs and on top of that, we are having to battle against surrounding states that are helped by additional gaming revenue. That being said, I think we held our own very nicely. I was very happy to see how strong we finished as our numbers that final two weeks showed that racing in Chicago in January is quite popular with not only our horsemen but our patrons as well. We are off to a great start in 2008 and I expect this to be a very strong year for Hawthorne and for racing in the state of Illinois.”
Millennium Farm’s Student Council shipped in from California and proved his prowess on dirt as well as Polytrack, by capturing the 71st running of the Grade II, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup. Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Richard Migliore, Student Council wore down a stubborn Jonesboro in route to victory.
On the same day, Migliore also won the Grade III $150,000 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap aboard Classic Campaign, nailing Crested in the final strides to win for Kinsman Stables and principle owner George Steinbrenner.
Gold Cup day also saw a track record fall, when Jennie R. made every pole a winning one in the $100,000 Indian Maid Handicap. The Michelle Boyce-trained mare stopped the clock in 1:40.46 for the one mile and one sixteenth grass event to establish the new mark.
Stories of human interest include 40-year-old Sylvia Harris who won her first-ever race on Wildwood Pegasus on December 1. The story provided additional significance because Harris is one of only a handful of African-American women who have won a Thoroughbred race. National features on Harris have appeared in the New York Times and soon on Good Morning America.
The Phil Georgeff Festival of Racing featured six Illinois-bred stakes worth $100,000 apiece and saw a bevy of longshots light up the tote. Dakota Rebel may have been the biggest surprise of the day as the two-year-old colt lit up the board in the Sun Power Stakes, paying $90.40 to win.
The Grade III $250,000 Hawthorne Derby featured three-year-old grass specialists and proved a coming-out party of sorts for the well bred Bold Hawk, who powered through the stretch to outnod a game Twilight Meteor. New York-based jockey Jean Luc Samyn rode the winner for trainer Jimmy Toner.
While the racing provided some dramatic and surprising finishes, the meet also saw the emergence of some exciting new talent. Jockeys Lyndie Wade and Tanner Riggs both started the meet as relative unknowns, but concluded the season as possible future stars.
The 16-year-old Wade, an upstart from Louisiana, was making a splash as an apprentice rider and winning numerous races, before being seriously injured in a spill here at the end of November. He is expected to recover fully.
Riggs, a soft spoken young man from South Dakota, won 62 races, good for third place in the jockey standings. His poise and patience were well-demonstrated and unusual for an 18-year-old rider.
Meet-end titles went to Frank Calabrese as leading owner, far outpacing the competition with 26 wins. William Stiritz finished second with 12 wins. Frank Kirby was the meet’s leading trainer, out-dueling Mike Reavis 39-37, by virtue of two wins on the last racing day.
Tim Thornton overcame injuries to earn his first jockey title, overtaking Chris Emigh 92-89. The battle heated up in the last week before Thornton edged away in the final three days.
Hawthorne Race Course’s Thoroughbred meet concluded January 13. Live racing will return on Friday, March 7 for the Spring Meet featuring the Illinois Derby. Racing will be conducted Thursday through Monday, regular first post 1:35 pm central time. Hawthorne Race Course is located at 3501 Laramie Avenue, Cicero, IL 60804, gates open daily at 7 am. Call (708) 780-3700 or visit the Web site at www.hawthorneracecourse.com.
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