Hawthorne’s inaugural Night of Champions, comprised of eight races covering eight divisions of Illinois Conceived and Foaled Standardbreds, proved to be a resounding success, and not only for the eight happy owners of the Finals winners.
The concept was also popular with a track full of fans and patrons around our wagering network.
Friday night’s (August 5) handle was the highest since Hawthorne resumed hosting a Harness meet three years ago.
Fans wagered a total of $2,180,503, from all sources. $467,273 of that was wagered in the state of Illinois with a substantial $312,680 bet on site.
Monday’s (August 8) first race promised to be a highly competitive event and it was…for a while.
Millionaire Million Dollar Bye and track record holder Woody Woodrow figured to leave the rest of the field far behind.
It started out that way. Million Dollar Bye got to the lead first but the speedy Woody Woodrow rushed to the front by the time they trotted the first quarter.
He had a length lead at the quarter, a 1 ½ lengths at the half, and 1 ¼ lengths at the three quarter pole.
Then things fell apart.
Million Dollar Bye, who had been perfectly positioned throughout the race, with Ron Marsh in the bike, pulled to the outside and rushed back up to regain the lead.
He had a 1 ¾ lengths lead at the top of the stretch and went on to score by 1 ½ lengths. Even-money favourite Woody Woodrow faded to a well-beaten fifth place.
Million Dollar Bye got the mile in 1.54 after fractions of 27.3 seconds, 55.3s and 1.25 and as the second-choice in the field, paid $7.40.
For the victory he earned $6720 for owners Thomas Lewandowski and Vanessa Anderson and trainer Paul Stafford and boosted his lifetime earnings to $1,165,773.
Courtesy Of Jim Miller, Publicity Director, Hawthorne Racecourse