Day At The Track

Hawthorne closes out Winter meet with a flourish

10:38 PM 09 Feb 2016 NZDT
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Casey Leonard Jim Ellison is joined by John Walsh for his leading trainer award.
Casey Leonard is joined by Assistant General Manager John Walsh and Harness Operations Tom Kelley in the winner's circle to received his award as leading driver at the winter meeting
Jim Ellison is joined by John Walsh for his leading trainer award.
After a seven-year absence from the harness racing scene at Hawthorne Race Course the trotters and pacers returned to the Stickney spa for a short four-week meet which kicked off on Jan. 8th. If the numbers that were put up are a sign of things to come racing fans will be in for a treat when the standardbreds return to Hawthorne in May for an extended five-month meet. 
With “mother-nature” cooperating and fans throughout the country embracing the very competitive racing the 22-card meet averaged more than $916,000 on the mainly 10 race programs with $50,000 of that total coming on track.  Those numbers far exceeded management’s expectations lending further hope for a very successful summer meeting. 
“The support we received from everywhere around the country was just tremendous,” said Publicity Director and Racing Analyst Jim Miller. “I would also like to thank TVG Network for all the support they gave us showing every card from start to finish. That is something we haven’t had for harness racing here in Illinois and that had a great impact on the handle.” 
Longshot players enjoyed the non-stop action at Hawthorne as favorites clicked at less than a 36% clip. There were several $100 + win mutuels throughout the meet with the highlight being the $110,906 payout in the 20 cent Jackpot High Five on Friday, Jan. 29th. 
The horsemen certainly did their part to support the product as well filling the entry box night after night for Racing Secretary Peter Hanley.  The meet featured three 11-horse fields, 174 10-horse fields, 36 nine-horse fields, 12 8-horse fields, and just one 7-horse field and one 6-horse field. 
“Considering the fact this was my first time working in the Chicago market the horsemen were just super to work with,” said Hanley. “I really think we developed a great relationship with them and we did our best to get everyone raced as much as possible. It’s pretty amazing when you can say that 97% of your races featured full fields.” 
Casey Leonard continued to dominate the local driving ranks taking home his first Hawthorne title over Simon Allard and Todd Warren. The training title came down to the final races of the Saturday card with veteran Jim Ellison edging out Ronnie Roberts, Terry Leonard and Alex Adam by a single win. The fastest mile of the meet was recorded by Burke Racing & Weaver Bruscemi’s Ontario Success who stopped the clock in 1:51.1 for trainer Roger Welch. 
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.  For additional information: | | 
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