Day At The Track

Harness racing to return to Hawthorne

09:44 AM 23 Dec 2015 NZDT
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Hawthorne Race Course
Hawthorne Race Course
December 22, 2016 (CHICAGO) -- Hawthorne Race Course and the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association have reached an historic agreement to keep harness racing in Illinois in 2016. The agreement will save thousands of Chicagoland jobs associated with the sport, including hundreds of small businesses that would have otherwise ceased operations or relocated to Indiana and other states.
 
"This is a pivotal year for Illinois racing," said Tim Carey, president and general manager of Hawthorne Race Course, which will be celebrating its 125th year of racing next year. "Race tracks are closing, competition from other states has never been stronger and there is no definitive timeline for gaming reform in Illinois that would allow us to truly compete on the national racing circuit. But we have an obligation to the people who work in this sport and we're doing all we can to keep it going."
 
In September the Illinois Racing Board approved a proposal to bring harness racing back to Hawthorne. Since then the track has been preparing for an influx of horses and horsemen, and has developed an aggressive timeline to transform its dirt track thoroughbred surface into a crushed limestone standardbred surface. Hawthorne's fall/winter thoroughbred meet will close on January 2nd and harness racing will begin just 6 days later on Friday, January 8. During this period thousands of horses will be moving into and out of Hawthorne's 25 barns.
 
"Hawthorne has really shown a commitment to Illinois racing in agreeing to host a January harness meet," said Dave McCaffrey, president of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association. "There is a twinge of excitement among horsemen and hopefully we're going to have a good product for players to bet on: full fields, stakes series, top drivers. It's sad that Maywood closed and now Balmoral is closing, but there is a lot to be thankful for with the new opportunity at Hawthorne and fans should be excited for what's coming."

Hawthorne's winter harness meet will begin on Friday, January 8th and feature 10 races per night, 5 nights per week until February 6th. Opening weekend will feature live music, a craft beer fest, gate giveaways, betting bonuses and cash prizes. First post is at 7:20PM Wednesday thru Sunday and general admission is $2.
 
ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
 
Founded in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the 4th oldest racetrack in the nation and the oldest sporting venue in Illinois. Located in Stickney, Illinois on the edge of Chicago's city limits, the 125 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in the Spring and Fall/Winter, and standardbred harness racing in January and the Summer. The family-owned and operated business has been an innovator in horseracing for more than 100 years and features the nation's most rewarding players program.
 
 

Dakota Shultz, (312) 371-4104, Dakota@AgencyThreeSixty.com

Jim Miller, (708) 426-5210, JimMiller@ClubHawthorne.com
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