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Hawthorne Race Course will offer a $17,500 guaranteed pool on tonight's Early Pick 5 as yet another competitive weekend of harness racing action kicks off. The popular 50 cent minimum bet, contested over the first five races of the night, was not hit last Sunday so it now features a carryover pool of more than $5,800 which will be added to Thursday night's action. Tonight's 10-race program is expected to get underway at 7:15 p.m. (central). That is just one of many big pools available to Hawthorne players each and every racing night as the season continues through September on a Thursday-Sunday schedule. Handicappers across North America can get a head start on the competition with free 12 line program pages for the guaranteed pool courtesy of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative and Track Master on the handicapping section at Jim Miller

Race five on Saturday evening was the harness racing feature at Hawthorne Racecourse as filly and mare open pacers battled. A field of nine lined up with OK Heavenly favored from the outside with driver Casey Leonard in the bike. Getting away for the lead was Kyles Secret, through a contested opening quarter in :28.0 On the backstretch, OK Heavenly moved to take over. After a half in :56.2, OK Heavenly maintained her advantage, covering three quarters in 1:25.0. Early in the lane, OK Heavenly was challenged by Ryleigh's Lilly and contended with that one to the eighth pole. After a stretch battle, OK Heavenly prevailed, holding off the late moves of Fresh Squeezed and Hipnumberone. OK Heavenly stopped the clock in 1:53.0. OK Heavenly is owned by Dandy Farms Inc. and Mark Winship and trained by Angela Coleman. Multi-Win Evenings Drivers - Casey Leonard (3 Wins), Kyle Wilfong (2 Wins), Mike Oosting (2 Wins) Race Winners Race 1 - Hot Cakes (1:55.3) Race 2 - Skyway Fireball (1:55.3) Race 3 - I Could Care Less (1:56.4) Race 4 - Northern B B (1:54.4) Race 5 - OK Heavenly (1:53.0) Race 6 - Misspanderosajones (1:56.1) Race 7 - Phenomenal (1:55.4) Race 8 - Schwarber (2:00.1) Race 9 - Wings (1:55.4) Race 10 - Wired Hanover (1:59.3) Race 11 - Sagebrush Sue (1:56.4) Race 12 - Galyns Gift (1:54.3) Jim Miller

Harness racing pacers were featured on the Hawthorne 2 race Friday evening card as races two and ten featured open-company. In the second race on the warm evening, a field of eight lined up. Leaving quickly was longshot Want Me, covering the quarter in :27.3. On the backside, Hot Rod Dylan took over through a half in :56.0. On the turn, Yankee Bounty moved to challenge through three quarters in 1:23.4. In the stretch, multiple horses battled, with Trashytonguetalker just getting up in time in 1:51.2. 50-1 shot Tyler The Terror rallied for second, while Hot Rod Dylan held third. Trashytonguetalker is owned by Terry Leonard and Chris Schick and trained by Terry Leonard. Race ten was the second group of open-company pacers with a field of eight after the scratches of Fan Of Terror and Dinky Dune. Favored was Best Man Hanover for driver Mike Oosting. Getting away for the lead was the favorite, through an opening quarter in :27.2. On the backside, Best Man Hanover maintained the lead through the half in :56.1. On the turn, Skim the Top moved out for a bid but Best Man Hanover remained in control through three quarters in 1:24.4. In the lane, Oosting kept Best Man Hanover to task, holding off Skim the Top by a half-length in 1:52.1. Mobil Big John closed to finish third. Best Man Hanover is owned by Sawgrass Farms LLC and trained by Perry Smith. Multi-Win Evenings Drivers - Casey Leonard (4 Wins), Kyle Wilfong (2 Wins), Ridge Warren (2 Wins) Trainers - Terry Leonard (3 Wins), Tom Simmons (2 Wins), Perry Smith (2 Wins) Race Winners Race 1 - Sporty Redhot (1:53.1) Race 2 - Trashytonguetalker (1:51.2) Race 3 - Kelly D (1:51.3) Race 4 - Dakota Roadster (1:52.0) Race 5 - Richess Nestor (1:55.1) Race 6 - Major Bliss (1:52.3) Race 7 - Rockin Machine (1:53.2) Race 8 - KC Rambunctious Boy (1:53.0) Race 9 - Summer Shandy (1:54.0) Race 10 - Best Man Hanover (1:52.1) Race 11 - He Gone Jack (1:53.2.) Race 12 - Mystical Walter (1:53.0) 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 126 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in March and April and again in October through Dec. Standardbred harness racing is conducted in May through September. 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: | | @ClubHawthorne. Jim Miller  

Race four on Saturday evening kicked off the first of three finals as the Bob Larry final for harness racing pacers that had not won $30,000 lifetime through the end of March took place. Hot Rod Dylan was the heavy 2-5 favorite with driver Mike Oosting in the bike. Sporty Redhot got away quickly, through the opening quarter in :28.2. On the backstretch, the favorite took over, covering the half in :57.0 and three quarters in 1:25.3. In the lane, Oosting roused the favorite and he responded, holding sway for a length and a half score. Hot Rod Dylan stopped the clock in 1:52.2. Longshot Bowedfortyova closed to finish second while Sporty Redhot held third. Hot Rod Dylan is owned by Shirley Le Vin and trained by Nelson Willis. Race five was the final in the Mike Paradise series for Illinois-bred three-year-old pacers that were non-winners of $10,000 lifetime through the end of March. In Your Eye was sent away as the 8-5 choice for driver Ridge Warren. At the start, Commondiscourtesy got away fastest of all, covering the quarter in :28.2 and the half in :58.1. In the turn, second-choice Sullivan made a quick move, leading the field into the lane through three quarters in 1:25.4. In the stretch, Warren tipped In Your Eye wide as he closed with a rush, winning by a length-and-a-quarter. In Your Eye covered the mile in 1:54.2. Ima Skydancer finished second while Sullivan held third. In Your Eye is owned by James Behrendt and trained by Mike Brown. Race ten was the $20,000 featured Cicero Claiming Series final as Maserati Seelster looked for a series sweep and was sent away at 3-5. Driver Tyler Shehan sent the favorite away at the start, through fractions of :28.3, :56.4 and 1:25.1. Mobil Big John chased the entire way, ranging up to challenge the favorite in the lane. After a stretch duel, Mobil Big John and driver Ryan Anderson emerged on top, catching Maserati Seelster, who was also outfinished by late-closing Bestnotlie Hanover. Mobil Big John finished in 1:52.3. The 7-2 second-choice is owned by Eulalia Rivera and trained by Loralee Johnson. Multi-Win Evenings Drivers - Casey Leonard (3 Wins), James Lackey (2 Wins) Trainers - Nelson Willis (2 Wins) Race Winners Race 1 - Fresh Squeezed (1:52.4) Race 2 - Nevada Bluechip (1:56.0) Race 3 - Kyles Secret (1:53.4) Race 4 - Hot Rod Dylan (1:52.2) Race 5 - In Your Eye (1:54.2) Race 6 - Major Bliss (1:53.4) Race 7 - Jetting Around (1:54.3) Race 8 - Fox Valley Bailey (1:53.4) Race 9 - Rockinaroundheaven (1:54.4) Race 10 - Mobil Big John (1:52.3) Race 11 - Red Hot Art (1:54.0) Race 12 - If You Say So (1:55.3) Jim Miller

Race two on Friday was the second leg of the Daryl Busse series for harness racing three-year-old trotters as a competitive field of seven lined up. Taking early action and sent away as the favorite was Dr Spengler for driver Kyle Wilfong. At the start, Picky Picky Valor headed for the lead and covered the quarter in :32.0. Early on the backstretch, favored Dr Spengler moved to contend while hung wide through a half in 1:01.0. Into the turn, Dr Spengler broke stride, leaving Picky Picky Valor back on the lead through three quarters in 1:30.4. In the lane, Bands Houdini and Kyle Husted tipped out and took over as Picky Picky Valor broke stride. Bands Houdini was the easy winner in 2:00.2 over late closing Totally Pazzazzed. Southern Stargazer finished third. Bands Houdini is trained by Steve Searle and owned in partnership by Searle and Flacco Family Farms, LLC. Race three on Friday was the second leg of the Bea Farber series for trotters with a field of eight. Energy Bar took late action and was sent away as the favorite from the inside draw. Leaving quickly from the outside was Hatfield and Mccoy but BC's Da Winner made the lead, covering the quarter in :29.0. BC's Da Winner maintained his lead through the half in :59.1. On the turn, Energy Bar moved to challenge through three quarters in 1:28.4. In the lane, BC's Da Winner battled on, but I Could Care Less and driver Keith Crawford rolled up in the center of the track and cruised on by to a victory in 1:58.4. Energy Bar got up for second while BC's Da Winner held on for third. Race four featured open pacers with a field of eight. Evergreen Elite was the favorite from the barn of trainer Ken Rucker. Leaving for the lead was Yankee Bounty, but Evergreen Elite rushed away to the front through the quarter in :27.2. On the backside, Account Rollover moved to challenge through a snappy half in :55.3. Evergreen Elite fought back on the turn and led the field into the lane in 1:24.0. In the stretch, Evergreen Elite and Mike Oosting battled on, drawing clear to win in 1:53. Yankee Bounty finished second while I'm An Athlete closed for third. Evergreen Elite Multi-Win Evenings Drivers - Casey Leonard (3 Wins), Kyle Wilfong (2 Wins), Mike Oosting (2 Wins) Trainers - Dane May (2 Wins)   Race Winners Race 1 - Dinky Dune (1:54.3) Race 2 - Bands Houdini (2:00.2) Race 3 - I Could Care Less (1:58.4) Race 4 - Evergreen Elite (1:53.0) Race 5 - IYQ YQR (1:54.0) Race 6 - Dakota Roadster (1:53.2) Race 7 - Wildcat Hilton (1:55.) Race 8 - Want Me (1:53.3) Race 9 - Trashytonguetalker (1:53.4) Race 10 - Outlawdangruswatrs (1:55.4)   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 126 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in March and April and again in October through Dec. Standardbred harness racing is conducted in May through September. 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: | | @ClubHawthorne. Jim Miller

The evening opened with the first division of leg two action in the David Magee series for harness racing three-year-old Illinois-bred pacing fillies. A field of eight lined up as C Far, a second-place finisher in leg one, was sent off as the favorite. Leaving for the lead was the favorite but Smiles Ahead was quicker to the front through the opening quarter in 29.1. On the backstretch, Kyle Wilfong kept Smiles Ahead on top through the half in :58.4. After three quarters in 1:27.2, C Far was asked to challenge while three wide. Battling through the lane, C Far just got up in time, winning by a neck for driver/trainer Gary Rath. Smiles Ahead finished second while Jewels Hall closed for third. Final time for the mile was 1:56.1. Race three was the second division of leg two of the David Magee as leg one winner Lady's Party was sent off as the heavy favorite. Getting away quickly was Lady's Party and Casey Leonard but she was challenged early by Rousey Ronda. Lady's Party covered the opening quarter in :28.3 and dictated the pace through a half in :58.3. On the far turn, Lady's Party continued to be pressed by Rousey Ronda through three quarters in 1:27.4. Roused into the lane, Lady's Party responded and drew clear, winning by five lengths in 1:55.3. Rousey Ronda was a clear second while Beamer N Bud finished third. Lady's Party is trained by Mike Titus. Race seven drew a field of 11 to contest the second leg of the Walter Paisley series for filly and mare pacers. Phyllis Jean was favored from the outside draw. At the start, Burry Me Inthesand set the pace through a quarter in :27.4 and a half in :57.0. On the turn, Alabamashakey moved to contend and headed Burry Me Inthesand through three quarters in 1:26.0. In the stretch, Burry Me Inthesand regained her advantage and opened up on the lead but Phyllis Jean came flying on the outside for driver Casey Leonard to roll on to a two and a half length win in 1:53.3. Burry Me Inthesand held on for second while Hope Hotspur finished third. Multi-Win Evenings Drivers - Casey Leonard (4 Wins) Race Winners Race 1 - C Far (1:56.1) Race 2 - Doyoudesiremyheart (1:55.1) Race 3 - Lady's Party (1:55.3) Race 4 - PJ Boy (2:01.1) Race 5 - Just Bogo (1:58.1) Race 6 - Dumas Gram (1:55.3) Race 7 - Phyllis Jean (1:53.3) Race 8 - Sharkfire (1:55.0) Race 9 - Look At Luke Smile (1:57.0) 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 126 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in March and April and again in October through Dec. Standardbred harness racing is conducted in May through September. 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: | | @ClubHawthorne. Jim Miller (708) 780-3671,

Harness racing from Hawthorne Raceway. Weather/Racing Conditions – Clear, 65 degrees, Fast track Race Winners Race 1 – Buster Moon (1:58.2) Race 2 – Finewineandcaviar  (1:59.3) Race 3 –Betorluckythangood  (1:58) Race 4 – Lakeside Ms Queen (1:57.1) Race 5 – Gran San  (1:58) Race 6 – A Real Doozie  (1:57.3) Race 7 – Heartland Revenue  (1:55.2) Race 8 – Dumas Gram  (1:56.1) Race 9 – Jaded Truth  (1:56.1) Race 10 – Pretty Image (1:54) Race 11 – Fox Valley Bailey  (1:56.1) Race 12 – Libby’s Idea  (1:56.3) Multi-Win Evenings Drivers – Michael Oosting (3 Wins), Casey Leonard (3 Wins), Dale Hiteman (2 Wins) Trainers – Frank Petrelli (2 Wins) Featured Races of the Night Race 4 – Peter Galassi leg 1 elimination. For pacers, fillies and mares, non-winners of $10,000 lifetime.  Favored Lakeside Ms Queen and driver Dale Hiteman controlled the pace through fractions of :30.1, 1:00.2, and 1:30.0 before drawing away in the lane to win by open lengths in 1:57.1. Rear View was second, followed by IYQ BNU.  Lakeside Ms Queen is owned by Jace Sundeen and Denise Jarka and trained by Jace Sundeen. Race 7 – Phil Georgeff leg 1 elimination. For three-year-old colts and geldings, non-winners of $10,000 lifetime.  Early in the race, driver Mike Oosting moved Heartland Revenue to the front and backed down the pace through fractions of :29.4, :59.0, and 1:28.0.  In the stretch, both Getting Rowdy and favored Mr McDreamy tipped wide to challenge, but were unable to get to Heartland Revenue.  Heartland Revenue won for trainer Tom Simmons in 1:55.2.  Getting Rowdy finished second while Mr McDreamy was third.  Heartland Revenue is owned by Glen Bauman. Jim Miller

May 9, 2017 (Stickney, IL) Harness Racing returns to Hawthorne Race Course on Thursday, May 11 with a series of exciting opening weekend events.     As the track puts final touches on a dramatic conversion of its facility from thoroughbred to standard-bred racing, which included removing over 11,000 TONS of sand, horsemen and race fans are clamoring for the opportunity to win on opening weekend.     Track officials are expecting full capacity fields of horses based on early entries and several thousand fans on-site to witness the extreme sport of summer harness racing.   "Harness racing is such a dynamic exciting sport that is so uniquely American," said Tim Carey, president and general manager of Hawthorne Race Course.  "And we have some of the best drivers in the country who come to Hawthorne to compete. Fans will have the chance to see the best of the best race."     HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE HARNESS RACING OPENING WEEKEND EVENTS: Opening Night on Thursday, May 11 with the First Post at 7:10 PM featuring free $500 "Pick 6 Contest." Fan Friendly Fridays begins on Friday, May 12 after 5 PM $2 admission and a Live Racing Program. Party with Corona on Saturday, May 13 featuring live music by Bifunkal, outdoor BBQ, Corona Gate Giveaway  and $3 Retro Beer Night. The first 500 guests will receive a free Koozie with paid admission after 5 PM. Mother's Day Cash Giveaway on Sunday, May 14 opportunities to enter to win up to a $1000 in cash giveaways.   The recently opened Tito's Stable Bar featuring two-tiered TV display and reserved seating along with private booths with TVs for personal viewing offers the ultimate racing experience. For more information or to make reservations, please contact Guest Services at 708.780.3733. SUMMER RACING SCHEDULE: General Admission is $2. Hawthorne Race Course is located at 3501 S. Laramie in Stickney, IL (½ mile north of I-55 on Cicero Avenue). Live harness racing begins on May 11 through September 24 on Thursdays - Sundays.  For the complete 2017 racing schedule:   EDITOR/REPORTER NOTE: Stunning HD b-roll video packages and HQ digital photos available for immediate use Interviews with track management, horsemen and drivers can be easily coordinated on all schedules Stable/paddock tours and Harness Racing 101 information available ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE   Founded in 1891, Hawthorne Race Course is the 5th 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: | | @ClubHawthorne.  

Harness Racing Secretary Robin Schadt would like to remind all horsemen wishing to enter their two-year-olds for this year’s Illinois Conceived and Foaled stakes program, that nomination payments must be postmarked no later than Saturday, April 15th. The fee for this season’s two-year-old events is $1,250. Horsemen are also reminded that the deadline for entries to the Cicero  Claiming Series at Hawthorne are due by April 24th. Nominating fees range from $200 to $400 for this series based on the event and claiming price horses are being entered for. Entry forms and schedules for all stakes and late closers can be found at All payments should be made payable to Suburban Downs and sent to: Hawthorne Race Course Att. Bookeeper 3501 S. Laramie Avenue Cicero, IL 60804 (708) 780-3700  

The Illinois Racing Board Feb. 28 conditionally approved transferring $500,000 of its "surplus" operating funds to bolster purses at the state's three remaining tracks. The tracks agreed to the details of the transfer. Horsemen's groups, however, raised some concerns and said they need more information before they decide whether to support enabling legislation. The ensuing lengthy discussion prompted IRB chairman Jeffrey Brincat to reiterate, "I never thought it would be so hard to give away a half-a-million dollars."   The proposal, eventually approved on a vote of 8-1, would provide $259,662 for the purse account at Arlington International Racecourse, $120,406 for Hawthorne Race Course, $37,475 for downstate Fairmount Park and $120,406 for harness purses at Hawthorne.   "Anything we can do to increase purses, we're all for it," said Hawthorne president Tim Carey. Hawthorne eliminated its stakes schedule in 2016 to maintain overnight purse levels.   "Fairmount purses are at the poverty level," said that track's president, Brian Zander. "Any little amount is appreciated."   Arlington general manager Tony Petrillo noted Arlington trimmed $500,000 from this year's stakes schedule to reallocate money to the overnight purse structure. "You have our full support," he said.   Board staff said the money is surplus from the appropriation for the current fiscal year because of economies and a reduced need for regulation due to a dramatic decline in harness race dates after the demise of Balmoral and Maywood Park.   Representatives of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Illinois Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Foundation both said they support the idea of hiking purses. But they urged the money be used to fund races written for Illinois-bred horses, which carry awards for owners and breeders.   And the ITHA, echoing sentiments expressed by the harness horsemen's group, said its members need further assurance that the redistribution of IRB funds will not result in a demand for more detailed scrutiny of their internal finances.   Dan Sullivan, outgoing president of the IBTOF, said breeding numbers in Illinois have declined precipitously, threatening the availability of horses in the near future.   "If we don't keep the numbers up," Sullivan told the commissioners, "you won't have a job to do in another three or four years, maximum."   ITHA president Mike Campbell added, "The reality of it is that we've got to enhance the Illinois product."   Sullivan and Campbell argued the state's tracks are not meeting their legal obligation to card two Illinois-bred races per program, which led to a protracted debate over the difficulty of matching horses to fields in conditions likely to fill.   "The statute says we're entitled to two races a day and here's the funding to support that," Sullivan said.   The ITHA and harness horsemen again raised fears that switching funding from the IRB operating account to horsemen's purses might open their organization to demands for internal records. Board staff said there is no intent to do that and nothing in the proposal that would trigger expanded oversight.   The lone "no" vote was cast by commissioner Robert Schiewe Jr., who questioned the legality of the transfer and the allocation among the tracks. His motion to table the discussion until the March meeting failed on a vote of 2-7.   The funds transfer is contingent on approval of legislation changing the purpose of the IRB appropriation from "regulation" of racing to "regulation and promotion" of racing. IRB staff said "promotion" would cover using operating funds for purses, which would promote the popularity of the state's product and generate more handle.   The legislation is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee. By Bob Kieckhefer Reprinted with permission of The Bloodhorse

Must-see Presentation for New or Veteran Fans of harness racing to Showcase New Trend in "Fractional Ownership" of Race Horses on Feb. 22   Hawthorne Race Course is proud to present a fractional ownership seminar conducted by Anthony MacDonald founder of The This cooperative horse ownership group is drawing praise for its innovative efforts to engage new fans into the business and excitement of modern horseracing. The discussion will take place on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 7:00 PM at the Club Hawthorne off-track betting parlor and sports bar in Oakbrook Terrace located at 17 West 648 22nd Street. This event is free and open to the public, reservations are suggested, please call 630-627-8238.   Fractional horse ownership offers new and veteran harness racing enthusiasts a chance to experience the thrill and excitement of true horse ownership. By providing a limited risk low cost entry to become a horse owner, bridges the gap to the public. In this way, trainers have an opportunity to grow their business and breeders can have a better chance to get fair value for yearlings. The MacDonald's have proven fractional ownership can work as the number of owners in their stable has grown from 3 to just over 200 in under two years. Part of the reason for the dramatic increase is because 76 of the original 78 fractional owners returned to buy shares in year two. As is evident, the MacDonald's are doing something right and now patrons will have a chance to hear how it is done.   "Bar none, there is nothing as thrilling as watching "your" horse race from the moment they leave the starting gate to when they take that final corner. We are sure groups of friends will decide to share in the excitement and go in on a horse together," said President and General Manager of Hawthorne Race Course Tim Carey. "This is the most straightforward and accessible way to become a horse owner and to develop long-lasting relationships within the racing community."   The Stable simplifies buying and owning a horse with a low risk way to purchase yearlings which allows owners to buy a small or large share by catering to all budgets. With their unique single share purchase program, each horse has an initial offering of 100 shares and, buyers can participate in racehorse ownership starting at one percent up to a hundred percent.   Fractional horse ownership provides an open, affordable, fractional purchase program, with a flat rate, no-surprises monthly billing system. "I'm not trying to sell anybody magic beans. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for anybody, on any budget to get involved in horse racing. Whether you are a seasoned horse owner or new to the horse racing world, we want our investors to be informed," explained Founder Anthony MacDonald. "It doesn't matter if you only own one percent of a horse; on race night, that's your horse. The whole point is to get people enthusiastic about owning horses again."   Two years ago, Anthony and his wife Amy started At that time the couple had three horses under their care and today they are managing a stable of 62 horses, 40 of them are two-year old's. The model of focuses on customer service and entertainment while employing benefits for both new and longtime harness fans.   According to Keith Gisser of The Daily Racing Form, "Fractional ownership is a winning concept. It can, in some instances, cost a participant less than a night at the track, and it gives the participant a chance to get all the trappings of ownership (except a name in the program) with no risk other than the initial investment."   Anthony MacDonald is a well-known Canadian horseman and businessman with over 20 years experience in the horse-racing industry. As an owner, trainer, and driver, he has competed in the biggest harness racing events in North America with multiple wins in Stake races. MacDonald has been one of Canada's top-ranked drivers for purse winnings and number of starts by a driver.   In 2011, MacDonald was ranked third in Canada for number of wins. He recently passed $23-million in career purse money earnings as a driver.   MacDonald regularly participates in programs to support harness racing in rural Ontario. He volunteers at youth and adult harness racing camps at Grand River Raceway, offers seminars in handicapping and takes every opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the sport.   The Stable was created by avid harness racing enthusiasts Anthony and Amy MacDonald and after only a year in business, has more than 160 owners. The Stable gives buyers and investors the opportunity to make decisions about potential horse ownership, or allows owners to keep up to date on their yearling's progress by reviewing pedigrees and videos, or reading weekly updates from the trainers, veterinarians and blacksmiths as they give their assessments of their yearlings in training.   For additional information: | | @ClubHawthorne.      

The 2017 Illinois conceived and foaled stake schedule has been announced by Hawthorne Race Course and the Illinois Harness Racing Horseman’s Association.   A series of Late Closing events have also been scheduled for the “Summer Meet” which will begin on Thursday, May 11th and continue through Sunday, Sept. 24th. Payments are due for the three-year-olds by Feb 15th while those looking to stake two-year-olds will have until April 15th to get their payments in.  The nomination fee of $300 for each of the eight scheduled Late Closing events will be due on April 1st. As was the case last season the ICF three-year-olds will have a single payment of $1,750 due while the state-bred two-year-olds will have a single payment of $1,250 due for these “added money” events.   The single staking payment will keep horses eligible to all four legs of the stakes series and the final or consolation. There is no nominating fee due for the aged stake events The top 10 highest point earners in the four legs will make the finals which will be contested on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 23rd.  The consolations are scheduled for closing night Sunday, Sept. 24th. Stall applications have been mailed to all horsemen who participated at Hawthorne in 2016 and can also be found on our website at . Stall applications are due no later than April 1st and stalls will be assigned by April 15th. A complete list of the 2017 ICF Stakes, the 2017 Late Closing events as well as the 2017 purse structure and conditions can also be found at the website. Purses are expected to increase by 30 to 40% across the board from 2016 levels. Additionally Illinois conceived and foaled horses will also have the chance to race for added bonus money in 2017. For those conditions restricted to Illinois bred horses, the purse will be increased by 10% of the scheduled purse for an open condition. State-bred horses will also receive a 50% allowance when racing with open horses.             Click here for the 2017 stake schedule and Late Closing Series schedules.             Please make all nominating checks payable to:  Hawthorne Race Course C/O Horseman’s Bookeeper 3501 S. Laramie Ave Cicero, IL 60804 (708) 780-3700   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 126 year old facility hosts thoroughbred racing in March and April and again in October through Dec. Standardbred harness racing is conducted in May through September.  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: | | @ClubHawthorne.      

Sandardbred racehorses, once the stars of one of the most popular sports in the Chicago area, are now an endangered species. In 2016, for the first time in the 71-year history of betting on harness races in Illinois, the sport had only one track operating in the Chicago market area. That track was Hawthorne Race Course, where the standardbreds raced 22 nights in January and February and 81 nights during a May-September summer season. For 2017, the Illinois Racing Board has granted Hawthorne's request to conduct only the summer races. The reduction marks a low point for the sport, which has its origins in the ancient battle chariot races of an empire that spanned modern-day Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The modern version of the sport involves horses racing at a specific gait while pulling a two-wheeled cart called a "sulky" for the driver. In Illinois, pari-mutuel betting on the sport was legalized in 1946 and was popular entertainment for decades. The all-time high was a combined total of 516 programs in 1995 at Hawthorne, Maywood Park in Melrose Park, Balmoral Park in Crete and Sportsman's Park in Cicero. But the milestone meeting took place in the summer of 1979 at Sportsman's. During that 99-night stand, the average daily attendance was 13,136, exceeding the daily average at the concurrent daytime summer thoroughbred meeting at Arlington Park by more than 2,000 fans. The average amount bet daily at Sportsman's was an Illinois record of $1.6 million. Back in 1946, that sort of handle was unfathomable. The ownership group made up of prominent New York and Chicago investors said they needed a nightly wagering average of $100,000 at Maywood Park to make a success of their $350,000 investment in the venture. After $154,977 was bet on the eight races on opening night, they had high hopes. "Night harness racing with pari-mutuel betting and other big league fixtures provides all the thrills of the thorobred sport, including upsets," the Tribune's James Segreti wrote in his opening-night story, using the Tribune's phonetic spelling style of the time. The modern era of harness racing had begun in 1940 when George Morton Levy obtained legislative approval to conduct pari-mutuel wagering on the sport in New York and inaugurated night racing at Roosevelt Raceway, a converted auto speedway on Long Island. After World War II ended and the postwar economy was booming, nighttime sports attractions were in short supply. In Chicago, the White Sox had just begun hosting night baseball games in 1939, but the Cubs played only nontelevised day games at home. The Bulls were nonexistent, and the Blackhawks weren't on television. So the new sport's trotters and pacers raced onto the scene in the mid-'40s and filled the void. Sportsman's, which had been the exclusive domain of the thoroughbreds, made its harness racing debut July 18, 1949, and was an instant success. The attendance of 11,789 and the betting handle of $237,812 were the highest first-night totals for an inaugural meeting in North American harness history. Sportsman's swiftly became one of North America's leading tracks and a magnet for the sport's most outstanding performers. Described by Chicago Herald-American racing writer Elmer Polzin as "racing's greatest trotting mare," Proximity was pitted against the male superstar Demon Hanover in two heats of the Sportsman's Park Trot on July 28, 1950, and she finished first and second to break a career earnings record for a mare that had stood since 1877. While Sportsman's was the premier location, other Chicago harness tracks were gaining national stature. After moving its thoroughbred meeting to Arlington Park, Washington Park became a harness track in 1962 and within a few years drew a crowd of more than 30,000, setting the state's all-time standardbred attendance record. Sportsman's Park's next-door neighbor is Hawthorne, which is the state's oldest thoroughbred track and introduced harness racing in the spring of 1970. Aurora Downs Racetrack fell on hard times and went out of business in 1976, and Washington Park Race Track in Homewood was destroyed by fire in 1977 and never rebuilt. Despite those setbacks, harness tracks remained Chicagoland entertainment destinations. Sportsman's brought in recording stars such as Ike and Tina Turner, The Captain and Tennille, and Blood, Sweat & Tears for concerts as an added attraction to the racing program, and heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali won an exhibition harness race at Maywood Park. Despite the ever-increasing proliferation of other nighttime sports on television, harness racing continued to have an ardent fan base in Illinois. Attesting to its popularity, in 1987, when cable TV was in its infancy, Mike Paradise and Eleanor Flavin began a 5 p.m. hour long harness racing show on SportsVision that continued for eight years. And Super Night, an 11-race extravaganza for Illinois-breds, with more than a million dollars in purse money, was introduced at Sportsman's on Sept. 16, 1989, and it became one of the biggest racing events in the Midwest. But the 1990s would turn out to be the start of a recession for standardbred racing in Illinois that turned into a Great Depression because of intense competition for the gambling dollar. As casino gambling arrived in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana in a big way, betting and purses plunged at the Chicago-area tracks. Sportsman's had its last night of harness racing Oct. 10, 1997, prefacing the ill-fated attempt to remake the track into a combination thoroughbred/auto racing facility, and the prestigious American-National races and Super Night were moved to Balmoral. By 2012, video gaming machines at bars, restaurants and truck stops were legalized in Illinois, cutting deeper into harness racing's popularity. But the ultimate undoing of harness racing in the Chicago area is tied to an alleged "pay-to-play" scheme that involved campaign contributions to now-imprisoned Gov. Rod Blagojevich for legislation benefiting the racetracks. The U.S. Court of Appeals in 2014 ordered the racetracks to pay several local casinos $77.8 million in restitution. Balmoral and Maywood sought bankruptcy protection. A court later sharply reduced the judgment, but the racetracks were already on the way out. Races were conducted in 2015, but the Illinois Racing Board denied requests for 2016 dates and the tracks were forced out of business. Neil Milbert is a freelance writer who covered horse racing as a Tribune staff writer from 1970-2008. Reprinted with permission of The Chicago Tribune

STICKNEY, IL - Stall applications for the 2017 summer harness racing meet at Hawthorne Race Course are now available. The five month summer season begins Thursday, May 11 and will race through Sunday, September 24. Horsemen that raced at Hawthorne in 2016 will have stall applications mailed to them but can also access the application through the Hawthorne website under the Horsemen section. Stall applications are due no later than April 1 as stalls will be allotted by April 15. Harness Racing Secretary Robin Schadt has put together an expanded list of conditions that will allow for horses racing at all levels to be competitive. Additionally, purses for 2017 will be increased 30-40% across the board. Attached to this release is a full list of conditions and purses for 2017. In addition to the increase in purses, Illinois conceived and foaled horses will race for some added bonuses in 2017. For those conditions restricted to Illinois-bred horses, the purse will be increased 10% off the purse for an open condition. Illinois-bred horses will also receive a 50% allowance when racing with open horses. This will allow Illinois-bred horses to be more competitive against open company at all conditioned levels. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - Saturday evening at Hawthorne, eleven stakes finals were contested for the Night of Champions at Hawthorne. The races for Illinois-breds were contested over a fast harness racing track. The Kadabra Championship The first stakes event on the evening was the Kadabra Stakes for two-year-old colt and gelding trotters. Louscipher (Lou's Legacy) used a well-timed move by Pat Curtin to overtake stablemate Lougazi in the lane and hold off Polar B at the wire for a three-length score in 1:58.3. Trained by Roshun Trigg and owned by Flacco Family Farms, Louscipher paid $7.20 as the second choice. The Fox Valley Flan Championship The Fox Valley Flan final was for two-year-filly trotters. Driver Casey Leonard used a well-timed move with Fox Valley Elana (Powerful Emotion)  to catch favored Lous Credit Report in the final sixteenth. Longshot Heartland Honey finished third as Fox Valley Elana won in 2:02. Fox Valley Elana paid $8.20 for owner and trainer Dane May. The Incredible Tillie Championship The Incredible Tillie final for two-year-old filly pacers saw another upset. Driver Freddie Patton Jr. made a bold, three-wide move in the turn with Princess Sage (Sagebrush) and outfinished favorite My Kind of Dance at the wire. Razzleme Dazzleme got up for third. Final time was 1:55.3. Princess Sage was owned by Keli Jo Bell and Freddie Patton Jr. and trained by Freddie Patton Jr. as she returned $15.60. The Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship The Beulah Dygert Memorial trot for three-year-old filly pacers saw the first winning favorite on the Night of Champions card. Vengeful (Powerful Emotion) and driver Todd Warren used a quick move in the turn and extended into the lane to draw clear for a five length score. Surviver Di held second while Roma Falls closed for third. Vengeful covered the mile in 1:58.1. Vengeful is owned by Providence West Inc. and trained by Kenny Collier, returning $3.60 to win. The Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Championship Three-year-old colt and gelding trotters matched up in the Erwin F. Dygert final. The favories finished one-two as Hail Caesar (Powerful Emotion) sustained a strong rally on the turn for Casey Leonard to hold off Fear. Longshot Primed N Powerful got up for third. Hail Caesar won in 1:58.1 for owner H W Wright and trainer Mike Brink. He returned $4.60 as the slight second choice. The Plesac Championship The Plesac final was for four-year-old and up trotters. Another favorite got the job done as Ants Iner Pants (Band's Gold Chip) was able to wear down Tricky Nick late for driver Kyle Husted. Rock Hollywood got up for third as Ants Iner Pants won in 1:57.3. Owned by Thomas Wisniewski and trainer Steve Searle, Ants Iner Pants paid $6.80 to win. The Incredible Finale Championship For two-year-old colt and gelding pacers, the Incredible Finale final was the most exciting finish on the night. Mike Oosting was able to swing Fox Valley Herbie (Yankee Skyscraper) six-wide into the stretch to rally from last for a half-length score in 1:54. Fox Valley Herbie caught Fox Valley Jeter and Gabe Henry. Fox Valley Herbie paid $9.20 for owner Benita Simmons and trainer Tom Simmons. The Robert S. Molaro Championship Four-year-old and up male pacers took to the track as there was no upsetting 1-5 favorite Unlocked. Driven by Jim Pantaleano and trained by Norm Parker, Unlocked (Duneside Perch) assumed command early, drawing clear to win in a snappy 1:51.3. A Cool Card held well for place while Lucky Crusader got up for third. Owned by Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc. and trained by Norm Parker, Unlocked paid $2.60 to win. The Robert F Carey Memorial Championship Dr. Drake Ramoray (Duneside Perch) didn't let starting from the outside post slow him down as he, along with driver Jim Pantaleano, rushed to the front end and never looked back in Saturday's Robert F. Carey Memorial Championship for Illinois Conceived and Foaled 3-year-old Colts and Gelding Pacers, winning by two and three-quarters lengths. Dr. Drake Ramoray, trained by Norm Parker and owned by Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc. got the mile in 1:53.0. He paid $11.20 as the fifth choice in the wagering. The Plum Peachy Championship Whiskersonkittens (Party At Artsplace) grabbed the lead quickly and held all the others safe as she paced her way to a five-length victory in Saturday's Plum Peachy Championship fir 3-year-old filly pacers. Driven by Todd Warren, owned by Ronald G Krupp and trained by Kimberly Roth, Whiskersonkittens paid $4.80 as the betting favorite in the race. She paced the mile in 1:52.4. LK's Nancy Lee finished second while morning-line favorite Char N Marg got up for third. The Tony Maurello Chapionship Fox Valley Charm (Yankee Skyscraper) , owned by Peter J Karras, trained by Rodney Freese and driven by Michael Oosting scored a half-length victory in Saturday's Tony Maurello Championship at Hawthorne Race Course. He covered the mile in 1:52.3, paying $9.00 as third choice in the wagering. Despite starting from the ten, Fox Valley Charm was able to gain good position early, had the lead by midstretch, and was able to hold off all late comers. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - Dandy Farms Inc & Mark Winship's OK Heavenly set the new track record for a harness racing four-year-old pacing mare on Friday evening at Hawthorne. Trained by Angie Coleman and driven by the meet's leading driver Casey Leonard, OK Heavenly assumed command early and never looked back in Friday's seventh race. She covered the opening quarter in :28 and the half in :55.2. She extended her lead into the lane through three quarters in 1:23.1 and crossed the wire a 6¾ length victor in 1:50.4. OK Heavenly eclipsed the previous track record of 1:51.1, set by Ready to Rumba on July 6, 2008. The win was the seventh on the year for OK Heavenly. Early Pick 5 Carryover and Late Pick 4 Guarantee for Night of Champions On Friday evening at Hawthorne, there were no winners in the Early Pick 5, leading to a carryover pool of $2,259 to start the Night of Champions card with the 7:00 PM first post. Later in the evening, races 9-12 will compile the late pick 4 as Hawthorne and the USTA Strategic Wagering Program will team up for a $25,000 guaranteed pool on the wager. The guaranteed pool will be comprised of four stakes races as free past performances can be found on the USTA website. Jim Miller    

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