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Hawthorne Race Course

A look back at the Grade III Hawthorne Derby
October 12, 2007

As the weather finally begins to resemble the usual cooler progression from summer to autumn, turf racing will become an enjoyable, but scarce commodity. On Saturday, October 13, Hawthorne Race Course will showcase some of the best three year old turf specialists in the land, in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby, the final local turf stake of 2007.

Since 1965 when Bold Bidder won the inaugural Hawthorne Derby (known then as the Hawthorne Diamond Jubilee), the race has had several transformations, but the most lasting one, the switch from dirt to turf in 1984 has left Hawthorne with a meaningful autumn grass race that has received national attention.

In the first year the Derby hit the lawn, the enormously talented Pass The Line crossed the wire first, while running the mile and three sixteenths distance in 1:57.3.

Proving his Derby win was no one-hit wonder, Pass The Line returned a year later in 1985 to run a mile and one quarter on the turf course in 2:00.2, establishing a track record that remains to this day.

In the 1991 Hawthorne Derby, Sam-Son Farmsí Rainbows For Life set a stakes and course record, stopping the clock in a remarkable 1:44.3 for a mile and one eighth, just a couple ticks shy of the world record held by Kostrama. That 1:44.3 mark has also never been equaled at Hawthorne Race Course. From 1989 to present the Derby distance has remained at a mile and one eighth.

In the last four years, a mix of local and national talent has captured the Derby, lending continued credibility to its status as an important graded event.

Hall of Fame trainer Billy Mott, most widely recognized as the great Cigarís conditioner, saddled both Cool Conductor (2004) and Gun Salute (2005) to back-to-back scores, while local heroes like trainers Anthony Granitz and Michele Boyce sandwiched the Mott double with wins from False Promises (2003) and Best of Buddies (2006) respectively.

Other than 1979 when the Hawthorne Derby was run at the now closed Sportsmanís Park, the early autumn race has been traditionally run at the Stickney oval and has woven its way firmly into the Hawthorne Fall Meet.

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