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HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE

Hawthorne Racecourse (3/1/04)

Contact: Jim Miller
(708) 780-3700

Full Fields, Warm Weather Spur Strong Hawthorne Opener

STICKNEY, IL -- Fields averaging nine starters per race and unusually warm weather in the Chicagoland area led to a rise in attendance and handle figures for the National Jockey Club at Hawthorne spring opening weekend.

Handle figures on both Friday and Saturday were significantly up both on-site and in total handle. On Friday, total handle was handle was up as $2,085,579 was wagered on Hawthorne's live card, up from the $1.83 million wagered on last year's first Friday. A crowd of 3,792 wagered $293,213 on-site for the card, up from the $189,000 bet for the like day in 2003.

On Saturday, handle numbers were even stronger as $2,575,470 was wagered all-sources on the live card, up from the $2.1 million from 2003. A crowd approaching 2,800 wagered $299,002 on-site on Hawthorne's card, up from the $210,000 wagered in 2003.

The temperatures over 50 degrees over the weekend made for a fast track and very competitive racing as 17 different trainers saddled winners from the first 20 races run. The riders also all got into the mix as 13 different riders guided home winners in the first two days. On opening day, jockey Carlos Montalvo was the only trainer or jockey to post a double as he rode home winners in the fourth and fifth races on the card.

On Saturday, trainers Mike Reavis and Joe McKeller both had training doubles while jockeys Larry Sterling Jr, Eddie Razo Jr, and Chris Emigh all rode home a pair of winners. The most interesting thing of all may have been that aside from a pair of first time starters that posted wins on opening day, every other winning horse in the first two days all came off a layoff of 30 days or longer.

Hawthorne is off from racing until Friday March 5. Beginning Friday, racing will take place every Friday through Monday in March. Beginning in April, racing will be conducted Friday through Tuesday through the end of the meet while taking off on Sunday, April 11 for Easter.

ChiTown Challenge Begins Friday

In the age where many tracks are charging an entry fee for their online handicapping contests, Hawthorne Race Course will continue a trend started three years ago and once again offer a free online handicapping challenge for the National Jockey Club at Hawthorne spring thoroughbred meet.

The $5,000 ChiTown Challenge will begin on Friday March 5. The rules for the contest remain as they have in the past. Each morning, contestants will choose one horse from one race on that days live card that they feel will finish in the top three finishers for the race. After the races, results will be calculated. If the contestant's pick does finish in the top three, they continue on to the next live racing day. The handicapper that lasts the longest will win the top prize of $5,000. In the event of a late scratch, contestants will be given the off-time favorite.

To sign up for the ChiTown Challenge contestants must go to the Hawthorne website, www.hawthorneracecourse.com and enroll by 12:00 PM CST on March 5, 2004. All selections must be placed for each day's races by 12:30 PM CST as well.

Once again, the top selections for the day will be posted on the Hawthorne website and a scoreboard will show how all contestants are doing in the contest and how many remain each day. For any information regarding the ChiTown Challenge, you can contact the Hawthorne Customer Service offices at 708-780-3700.

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