Hawthorne Racecourse (10/2/12)
Contact: Jim Miller
Live Racing Returns to Hawthorne with Big Opening Weekend
STICKNEY, IL – Welcome Back! It’s been five long months since real dirt track racing took place in the Chicago Metro area and fans and bettors across the country have been awaiting this day. The Hawthorne fall Thoroughbred meet opens Friday with a 2:10 pm post and a nine-race card of full fields. For the nine races on Friday 102 horses were entered with full fields of 12 entered in five of the nine races.
Not only does Hawthorne feature a dirt track but we also have the second longest stretch in North America and we’ll be making use of it with five day a week racing this fall, running live Wednesday through Sunday with a 2:10 pm post daily. Turf racing should continue well into November, giving savvy bettors and pedigree experts the chance to play great racing action on both surfaces. In addition, racing action from Hawthorne will be televised daily on TVG with onsite coverage from Hawthorne for the Grade II $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup on the meet’s second day.
Friday might be opening day but we jump into major stakes action quickly at Hawthorne. Saturday brings the 76th running of the Grade II $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup which has turned into a major prep for multiple Breeders’ Cup races and looks to draw a stellar field once again. Multiple Graded stakes winner Alternation headlines the prospective runners for the Gold Cup which also includes Cease and Nate’s Mineshaft among others. The Gold Cup will be run as the 8th race on the Saturday card and will be drawn on Wednesday morning.
The supporting card for the Gold Cup is also strong with a pair of $100,000 turf events on that day with the Indian Maid Handicap for the girls and the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap for the boys. Those races will sandwich the Hawthorne Gold Cup as part of a great late Pick 4 sequence.
As a whole, the stakes schedule gets a fresh look for the fall meet. Following opening weekend, Hawthorne will offers stakes races every weekend in October, splitting up the Illinois Festival of racing to better prepare Illinois horses. On October 13, three-year-old turf runners will take to the grass in the Grade III $200,000 Hawthorne Derby. The following week, state-bred sprinters are the focus in the Powerless Handicap and Lightning Jet Handicap. On October 27, older state-bred turf runners compete on the grass in the Illini Princess Handicap and Buck’s Boy Handicap. The weekend after Breeders’ Cup, November 10, will feature two-year-old state-bred runners in the Showtime Deb and Sun Power Stakes. To close out the meet, juvenile fillies will go two turns in the Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante on December 1 and the boys will run a route on December 8 in the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity. All of the Illinois-bred stakes will carry purses of $125,000.
Jockey Francisco Torres is back after winning the riding title at Hawthorne in the spring. Roger Brueggemann has a large contingent of horses as he looks for a repeat of his training title as well. Additionally, the nation’s leading owner, Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. of Richard and Karen Papiese are closing in on the national record for victories in a season as they look for a repeat of the owner’s title at Hawthorne. Both Torres and Midwest Thoroughbreds, Inc. enter the fall meet coming off winning titles at Arlington Park this summer.
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-day period. That handle total translated to a 27.5 percent 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. The onsite increase for the meet was 20 percent. In state handle increased 9.2 percent while out of state handle was up over 30 percent for the spring meet.
“We are very excited for this fall meet and we expect to continue the momentum we started with such a strong spring meet,” stated Hawthorne Assistant General Manager Jim Miller. “The horsemen are happy to be back and have shown their support by filling the entry box for opening day. Our track crew has done another great job preparing the dirt surface and horses look great training over it. We want to expose as many fans to Hawthorne on the air with our great partners at TVG and want to get as many fans in the door by offering them admission, which includes a program, for only $4. With a full backside of horses, we are able to race five days a week and are expecting big things this fall at Hawthorne.”
Live racing returns to Hawthorne on Friday, October 5 and concludes Sunday, December 30. Live racing will be conducted every Wednesday-Sunday. First post daily is 2:10 pm. Hawthorne Race Course is located in Stickney IL at 3501 S. Laramie Ave. For information on live racing or groups at Hawthorne Race Course, contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700 or visit Hawthorne online at www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.