|Hawthorne Racecourse Spring meet opening release (2/25/03)
Contact: Jim Miller
Live Racing Returns to Illinois on Saturday
STICKNEY, IL -- On Saturday March 1, after two months without racing in Illinois, live racing returns to Hawthorne as the National Jockey Club at Hawthorne meeting begins. To race March 1 - May 8, the 48-day spring meeting will see many familiar faces along with some new ones.
The top names from 2002 return as last year's leading rider Chris Emigh heads a strong jockey colony as he's joined by Larry Sterling Jr., E.T. Baird, and Randall Meier. Some new faces will pop up in the jocks room this meet as well. Curt Bourque comes to Hawthorne from Louisiana to ride, Justin Vitek ships in from Kentucky, and Ryan Barber comes to Illinois from West Virginia.
Hawthorne has proven to provide the fullest fields in Illinois through the support of our trainers and 2003 looks to be much of the same. 2002 leading trainer Mike Reavis returns with a full contingent, along with runner-up from 2002 Frank Kirby. Reavis and Kirby will be joined by strong stables from Jere Smith Sr., Richard Hazelton, Chris Block, and Wayne Catalano. A familiar face returns to Illinois as Louie Roussel III comes to Hawthorne from Louisiana.
The spring stakes schedule will be comprised of 10 stakes races, highlighted by three Graded Stakes events. Headlining the spring is the Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby to be run on April 5. In 2002, the Illinois Derby was the final stop for War Emblem as he parlayed his win in the Illinois Derby to victories in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. For the 2003 edition, 135 horses have nominated early for the Illinois Derby.
A pair of Grade 3 events will be contested in mid-April as the $250,000 National Jockey Club Handicap will be run on April 19 and the $250,000 Sixty Sails Handicap will take place on April 26. A staple of the spring Illinois season also returns, as Illinois-breds will be featured on April 12 as six, $100,000 added events will be contested.
In 2003, Hawthorne Race Course will be hosting three racing meets. The National Jockey Club at Hawthorne meet races from March 1 - May 8. The Suburban Downs at Hawthorne harness meeting runs from May 13 - June 30. Thoroughbreds return for Hawthorne's fall Thoroughbred meet to take place from September 28 - December 31. Post time for the live Thoroughbred meet is 1:10 pm daily, noon on Kentucky Derby Day.