Hawthorne Racecourse (1/3/11)
Contact: Ron Uchman
Hawthorne Fall Meet Closes With Positive Numbers
STICKNEY,IL – Good weather, full fields and a schedule change paid off this fall as total handle for the Hawthorne fall Thoroughbred meet was up over 7 percent for the fall meet.
Average daily handle for the 2010 fall Thoroughbred meet was $2,768,612, up 7.82 percent over the 2009 fall average of $2,567,856. Onsite handle stayed consistent with a daily average of $107,114 this fall compared to $110,612 in 2009, despite the removal of Sunday racing in the fall.
Mother Nature reared her ugly head upon the fall meet in 2009, causing many days of turf racing to be missed. Not a single race had to be removed off the turf in 2010 and only one live racing day was lost. In the 2009 fall meet, there were 39 turf races conducted with an average field size of 9.64 starters per race. This fall, 61 races were contested on the turf with an average field of 10.23 starters/race. Overall, field size for the fall meet was up more than a starter per race as the 2010 fall meet averaged 9.77 starters per race compared to 8.55 starters/race in 2009.
“This fall was a meet about recovery, and setting ourselves up for the future,” stated Assistant General Manager Jim Miller. “We entered the meet with a large purse overpayment to recoup while trying to provide the best racing opportunities possible. To the credit of our horsemen, they provided great support of our racing program which led to our increase in handle. Because of the proactive measures that we took this fall, we are now set up to race for higher purses while offering better quality in races when racing returns for our spring meet.”
On the track, jockey Tim Thornton won his fourth Hawthorne riding title, guiding home 61 winners on the meet. Second in the standings was Tanner Riggs with 48 wins, followed by Pablo Morales who rode 36 winners. The leading trainer title went down to the final day as Joel Berndt grabbed his first training title of his career, saddling 26 winners for the meet. Berndt was one victory ahead of Jamie Ness while Roger Brueggemann finished four wins back with 22 victories.
The race for leading owner was done early in the meet as the nation’s leader in victories, Midwest Thoroughbreds, was also the Hawthorne champ with 28 wins on the meet.
Fall highlights came early with the 74th running of the Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap. The race was won by front-runner Redding Colliery while Giant Oak closed late to finish a solid second in the race. Those two runners would represent Hawthorne well later on the year as Chris Block-trained Giant Oak won the Grade I Clark at Churchill while Redding Colliery ran second in that event.
Block would continue his tremendous fall as Illinois-bred Amazing Results was victorious in the Grade III Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap. Block also saddled Mister Marti Gras, the second-place finisher in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby, won by Yankee Fourtune. Both of those runners came back in the Grade III Commonwealth Turf at Churchill, a race won by Yankee Fourtune while Mister Marti Gras would run fifth.
Block wasn’t done making a splash though as his state-bred three-year-old filly Dundalk Dust was an upset winner on Illinois Festival of Racing day in the Illini Princess Handicap. Block and Dundalk Dust made Illinois racing proud as she followed that win with another upset score in the Grade II Falls City Handicap at Churchill in her following start in the slop. As an exclamation point for the meet, two-year-old Illinois-bred Table Games made the final impact for the meet winning the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity for Block in a gutsy victory.
“We had many objectives that we needed to accomplish this meet on and off track,” stated Hawthorne President Tim Carey. “This fall we were able to see the tracks and horsemen’s groups unify on the legislative front which is a major positive. At the same time, we needed to recognize that the health of the racing industry in Illinois was dependant upon this fall meet. With a strong fall meet, we were able to accomplish many of the goals necessary to succeed in 2011 and beyond.”
Hawthorne Race Course is in its 101st year of racing under Carey family ownership. Live racing returns to Hawthorne on Friday, February 11 as racing will take place on Fridays and Saturdays in February in 2011. In March, racing will take place Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with Sunday racing returning on March 27 and continuing through the entire month of April. First post daily for the spring will be 1:30 pm. For more information on Hawthorne, please visit our website www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.