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January 26, 2021 (Stickney, IL) -- As Covid mitigation guidelines continue to ease, allowing for casinos to resume operations, Hawthorne Race Course and PointsBet have been approved by the Illinois Gaming Board to open the State’s first off-track and non-casino sportsbook beginning on Wednesday, January 27th.    The newly remodeled Club Hawthorne in suburban Crestwood is part of Hawthorne’s off-tracking betting (OTB) network, and is the first of three such OTB locations that will open under Illinois’ sports betting law. The PointsBet Sportsbook at Hawthorne Race Course previously opened in September -- the first race track sportsbook in Illinois, and the closest sportsbook to downtown Chicago.   “Hawthorne is the only gaming company in the Chicagoland area that is able to open sportsbooks at off-track and non-casino locations, so this is an opportunity on which we focused a lot of energy and investment,” said Tim Carey, president and CEO of Hawthorne Race Course. “We completely remodeled the space to create the best sports viewing and sports betting destination in the State.”   The PointsBet Sportsbook at Club Hawthorne in Crestwood features a 163” Hero LED Video Wall and twenty-four 75” TVs bookending the viewing area, and a fully integrated, state-of-the-art sound system to create an arena-like experience. There are six self-service kiosks and five betting clerk stations, which are socially distanced and separated by plexiglass barriers. The venue features curbside parking and space for up to 500 people (when at full capacity post-COVID) with leather captain’s chairs, small group couches and highboy tables.     “As sports fans we all love the game, love the action, but we also love experiencing it with other fans,” said Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA. “The unique opportunity to open a new-style of standalone sportsbooks with Hawthorne required us to develop something that would match the best-in-class customer experience that PointsBet provides on our mobile platform. This isn’t just the best sportsbook in Chicago, it’s the best sports bar too.” The PointsBet Sportsbook at Club Hawthorne will also feature exclusive retail-only betting promotions and sweepstakes. Current health safety protocols provide for limited seating capacity which will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis; however bet-and-go services for cash wagering are available. The sportsbook will open from 12PM-10PM on weekdays and 10AM-10PM on weekends.   Hawthorne Race Course

Springfield (Spr1) Illinois County Fair Replacement Races (10/1/ 20/20 With Uploaded Full Hi-Def Wide Screen Video(s)   Race 1 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 2 YO FILLY TROT 1st Bbr Lady (2, M Armbro Approach - Zora`s Dream - Dream Vacation) 2nd Lous Voodoo Woman (2, M Lou`s Legacy - Powerful Force - Powerful Emotion) 3rd Lou Lou Lamour (2, M Lou`s Legacy - Any Word Hanover - Donato Hanover) Time: 28.4 59.4 (31.0) 1:31.1 (31.2) 2:00.4 (29.3) Video: FIRST RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 2 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 2 YO COLT TROT 1st Sumbodygetdisfool (2, R Armbro Approach - Semjac Legacy - Western Paradise) 2nd Loyz Say When (2, G Dangerous Thing - Malia Ann - Armbro Tropicana) 3rd Mystical Murray (2, G Up Front Murray - Early Decision - Majestic Son) Time: 29.4 1:00.4 (31.0) 1:33.2 (32.3) 2:04.0 (30.3) Video: SECOND RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 3 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 2 YO FILLY PACE 1st Kandi`s Fortune (2, M Ryan N Hanover - Land D`s Taylor - Ft Apache Hanover) 2nd Hart`s Heart (2, M Major Bombay - Redhot Hart - Sportsmaster) 3rd Dandys Duchess (2, M Sportsmaster - A Very Nice Horse - Incredible Finale) Time: 29.0 1:02.2 (33.2) 1:34.1 (31.4) 2:02.0 (27.4) Video: THIRD RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 4 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 2 YO COLT PACE 1st Bombay Bobby (2, G Major Bombay - She`s Sharp - Western Ideal) 2nd Bc`s Tufftiger (2, G Walker Place - Watchbellepace - Watchorlandopace) 3rd Sportsmadness (2, G Sportsmaster - Faith And Trust - Ft Apache Hanover) Time: 29.2 1:00.0 (30.3) 1:30.1 (30.1) 1:58.1 (28.0) Video: FOURTH RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 5 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 3 YO FILLY TROT DIVISION 1 1st Reign And Shine (3, M Cassis - Faith And Trust - Ft Apache Hanover) 2nd Tropical Rosie (3, M Dontcheatonmenow - Tropical Caprice - Armbro Tropicana) 3rd Lous Flashy Dancer (3, M Lou`s Legacy - Fox Valley Lapdanz - Vaporize) Time: 29.1 1:01.0 (31.4) 1:32.4 (31.4) 2:01.3 (28.4) Video: FIFTH RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 6 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 3 YO FILLY TROT DIVISION 2 1st El Oh Govner (3, M Cassis - High Game - High Falls) 2nd High Queen Anne (3, M High Falls - Queen Jane - Chocolatier) 3rd Princess Poprocks (3, M Yankee Valor - Mom`s Princess - Victory Sam) Time: 30.4 1:04.0 (33.1) 1:36.1 (32.1) 2:04.3 (28.2) Video: SIXTH RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 7 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 3 YO COLT TROT 1st Lou Paschal (3, G Lou`s Legacy - Bands One Eye Love - Band`s Gold Chip) 2nd Easy Eo (3, G Cassis - Tropical Trixie - Armbro Tropicana) 3rd Heath Bar (3, G Psychic Spirit - Milky Way - Chocolatier) Time: 30.2 1:01.0 (30.3) 1:32.1 (31.1) 2:01.3 (29.2) Video: SEVENTH RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 8 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 3 YO FILLY PACE 1st Harper (3, M Sportsmaster - Boss Lady Hanover - Dragon Again) 2nd Locked On It (3, M Sagebrush - Loch Laggan - Life Sign) 3rd Ashlees Spur (3, M Ashlee`s Big Guy - Sharon Spur - Sharky Spur) Time: 28.1 58.1 (30.0) 1:28.0 (29.4) 1:56.0 (28.0) Video: EIGHTH RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 9 ILLINOIS COUNTY FAIR STAKES 3 YO COLT PACE 1st Hello Rooster (3, G Lexington Legend - I Bet U - Artsplace) 2nd Grand Ole Party (3, H Party At Artsplace - Summer Sunrise - No Nukes) 3rd Patton Plus (3, G Duneside Perch - Reflect Upon Life - Life Sign) Time: 30.2 1:03.0 (32.3) 1:34.2 (31.2) 2:01.1 (26.4) Video: NINTH RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 10 Illinois Harness Horseman's Association (IHHA) 3 YO & UP FILLY/MARE PACE 1st Pretty Iris (5, M Party At Artsplace - Robyn`s Alive N - Live Or Die) 2nd Flipfloppinflossie (4, M Sportsmaster - Incredible Katie - Incredible Finale) 3rd Prettyfaceuglyways (6, M Yankee Skyscaper - Marg`s Ideal - Ideal Towne) Time: 28.1 57.2 (29.1) 1:27.2 (30.0) 1:56.2 (29.0) Video: TENTH RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 11 Illinois Harness Horseman's Association (IHHA) 3 YO & UP COLT/GELDING PACE 1st Dash Around (5, G Party At Artsplace - Armbro Dasher - Cam`s Card Shark) 2nd Not Me Gram (5, G Lexington Legend - Startrix Gram - Dictionary) 3rd Illini Force (3, G Sagebrush - Bobs Minute Maid - Tattler`s Torpedo) Time: 30.0 1:00.1 (30.1) 1:29.4 (29.3) 1:57.4 (28.0) Video: ELEVENTH RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Race 12 Illinois Harness Horseman's Association (IHHA) 3 YO. & UP TROT 1st Majistic Caprice (5, G Malabar Aqua - Tropical Caprice - Armbro Tropicana) 2nd Primed N Powerful (7, G Psychic Spirit - Prim As A Rose - Primrose Lane) 3rd Loussolataire (4, M Lou`s Legacy - Earli Valley - Valley Victor) Time: 29.4 1:02.1 (32.2) 1:31.2 (29.1) 1:58.4 (27.2) Video: TWELVE RACE Hi-Def Wide Screen Video   Springfield Harness Racing 2020 The Horseman's Voice  

STICKNEY, IL – With races shifted from Springfield and DuQuoin to Hawthorne this summer, many of the top harness racing horses in the state were on hand for what turned out to be a preview of next month’s Night of Champions. Friday night kicked off impressively as two-year-old Hot Mess Express defeated Topline company by 11 ½ lengths, winning in 1:52.1 for trainer Jamaica Patton and driver Ridge Warren.  That win by Hot Mess Express began a string of ten straight winning favorites on the Friday card. After favorites Crankin’ It Up (1:54.1) won for Kyle Wilfong and Nicole Agosti won the second race and Sudden Approach (2:03.4) took the third for Clifton Bell and Jerry Mims, the Championship finals kicked off. Race four saw a field of male juvenile pacers compete in the $32,000 final.  Driver Marcus Miller gave Erv Miller trained Well Basically a perfect stalking trip, rallying late to win by three-quarters of a length.  Covering the mile in 1:56.4, Well Basically held off longshot Diamond Diesel.  Pacesetter Frontier Charley held on to finish third. Two-year-old male trotters were next in the $32,000 final.  Another favorite, and another impressive effort was seen as Curt Grummel trained and driven Bobalou made the lead and never looked back.  A winner by nine lengths in 2:01.0, Bobalou was well clear of 55-1 shot Loyz Say When and 26-1 Fistfullofdollars, who finished third. Race nine on Friday featured three-year-old male pacers for $30,000. Avenging a defeat from last week, trainer Don Filomeno’s He’zzz A Wise Sky left no doubt in the final.  Instead of rating, the 1-5 favorite moved to the front early for driver Robert Smolin and was in full control, winning by 5 ½ lengths in 1:52.1. Rg’s Tracer rallied for second while Ryans Ambassador finished third. Race 13 went for $30,000 as three-year-old male trotters brought forth the first upset of the championship races.  Trainer Mike Brink finished one-two in the race as 10-1 winner On Higher Ground (1:56.2) got up in the shadow of the wire for Kyle Wilfong to catch 9-5 Crooked Creek, winning by a neck. 3-5 favorite Fox Valley Quest closed late to finish third. Saturday evening continued the festivities as the card kicked off with juvenile filly trotters competing for $32,000. Continuing the trend of favorites dominating, Loulita did just that as Casey Leonard guided the Steve Searle trainee to a 6 ¼ length triumph in 2:02.1. Myonly Sin finished second while Lucky Valerie was third. Three races later, two-year-old filly pacers brought about a bit of an upset in the $32,000 event.  Carving out the fractions and never looking back was the Mike Brink trained Hart’s Heart as Juan Franco drove her to a 4 ¾ length score in 1:55.3.  Longshot  Bootsy Bombay rallied for second while favored Princess Moose chased the pace and held on for third. It was Juan Franco right back in the winner’s circle for the following race as three-year-old filly pacers competed for the $30,000 pot. Juan pulled another upset, this time with 7-1 shot Sign Her Up, winning by 3 ¼ lengths.  Heavy favorite Fox Valley exploit battled but was only second best while Harper finished third.  Sign Her Up covered the mile for trainer Charles Arthur in 1:54.1. The final championship race of the weekend was for three-year-old filly trotters in the tenth race, carrying a $30,000 purse.  This time the favorite was able to get the job done as Casey Leonard drove Lous Abigail to the victory in 1:58.1. 33-1 shot was game in defeat, battling to the wire and coming up a head short. Fox Valley Lush finished third.  Both Lous Abigail and Bee See were trained by Steve Searle. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, returned for live harness racing on Saturday, February 15 and races through Sunday, September 20.  Post time nightly is 7:10 PM.  Hawthorne races live during the summer harness meet every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 2 through December 26.  For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.   Jim Miller

Springfield Harness Racing 2020 - Topline (Illinois Trotting & Pacing Assoc.) - Hawthorne Race Course - RECAP - August 22, 20/20   Race 1 2 Year Old Filly Championship Illinois Conceived and Foaled Winner: Loulita (2, M Lou`s Legacy - Olives And Caviar - SJ`s Caviar) 2nd Myonly Sin 3rd Lucky Valerie Time: 31.1 1:02.1 (31.0) 1:33.1 (31.0) 2:02.1 (29.0) VIDEO:   Race 4 Two Year Old Filly Championship Illinois Conceived and Foaled Winner: Hart`s Heart (2, M Major Bombay - Redhot Hart - Sportsmaster) 2nd Bootsy Bombay Princess Mooss Time: 28.4 57.0 (28.1) 1:26.1 (29.1) 1:55.3 (29.2) VIDEO:   Race 5 Three Year Old Filly Championship Illinois Conceived and Foaled Winner: Sign Her Up (3, M Sagebrush - Lives To Dance - Life Sign) 2nd Fox Valley Exploit Sin 3rd Harper Time: 29.4 58.4 (29.0) 1:26.4 (28.0) 1:54.1 (27.2) VIDEO:   Race 6 Topline (Illinois Trotting & Pacing Assoc.) (Topline) - 2 yo Winner: Alwaysbmygg (2, M Creatine - April Fooling - Broadway Hall) 2nd Jamaican Smile 3rd Whimsical Kid Time: 31.0 1:02.1 (31.1) 1:32.1 (30.0) 2:02.3 (30.2) VIDEO:   Race 7 Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) - 3 yo Fillies Winner: Fox Valley Extacy (3, M Pizzazzed - Racy Roz - Conway Hall) 2nd Fantastic Valor 3rd She`s Got Moxy Time: 30.4 1:00.3 (29.4) 1:31.0 (30.2) 2:01.0 (30.0) VIDEO:   Race 8 Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) - 3 yo Fillies Winner: Tropical Fruit (3, M Sportsmaster - Sunshine Sister - Real Artist) 2nd Fox Valley Nia 3rd Dancin Eyes Time: 29.1 57.4 (28.3) 1:27.1 (29.2) 1:56.1 (29.0) VIDEO:   Race 9 Topline (Illinois Trotting & Pacing Assoc.) (Topline) - 3 yo & Up Winner: Muscular Babe (5, M Guccio - Andover Babe - Andover Hall) 2nd Primed N Powerful 3rd Scramble Camp Time: 29.2 57.4 (28.2) 1:27.3 (29.4) 1:57.0 (29.2) VIDEO:   Race 10 Three Year Old Filly Championship Illinois Conceived and Foaled Winner: Lous Abigail (3, M Lou's Legacy - SH Four - Valley Victor) 2nd Bee See 3rd Fox Valley Lush Time: 30.1 58.3 (28.2) 1:27.4 (29.1) 1:58.1 (30.2) VIDEO: The Horseman's Voice  

Springfield Harness Racing 2020 - Topline (Illinois Trotting & Pacing Assoc.) - Hawthorne Race Course - RECAP - August 21, 20/20   Race 1 Topline (Illinois Trotting & Pacing Assoc.) - 2 yo Winner: Hot Mess Express (2, M Panther Hanover - My Heart Was True - Cole Muffler) 2nd Coach Loman 3rd Drivin Me Crazy Time: 28.1 57.3 (29.2) 1:24.3 (27.0) 1:52.1 (27.3) VIDEO:   Race 3 Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) - 2 yo Colts & Geldings Winner: Sudden Approach (2, H Armbro Approach - Louisa Matilda - Malabar Man) 2nd Mystical Murray 3rd Sumbodygetdisfool Time: 30.4 1:02.2 (31.3) 1:34.0 (31.3) 2:03.4 (29.4) VIDEO:   Race 4 Two Year Old Colts & Geldings Championship Illinois Conceived and Foaled Winner: Well Basically (2, G Sagebrush - Basic Brown - Broadway Express) 2nd Diamond Diesel 3rd Frontier Charley Time: 29.4 58.4 (29.0) 1:28.3 (29.4) 1:56.4 (28.1) VIDEO:   Race 5 Two Year Old Colts & Geldings Championship Illinois Conceived and Foaled Winner: Bobalou (2, G Lou`s Legacy - Honestly - Deweycheatumnhowe) 2nd Loyz Say When 3rd Fistfullofdollars Time: 31.0 1:00.2 (29.2) 1:31.0 (30.3) 2:01.0 (30.0) VIDEO:   Race 7 Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) - 3 yo Colts & Geldings Winner: Lousintuit (3, G Lou`s Legacy - Starlix - Giant Triumph) 2nd Fitchey For Fun 3rd Heath Bar Time: 31.1 1:01.1 (30.0) 1:31.1 (30.0)2:00.2 (29.1) VIDEO:   Race 8 Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) - 3 yo Colts & Geldings Winner: Mighty Tony Mac (3, G Hawaiian Cowboy - Andria Doria - Cole Muffler) 2nd Patton Plus 3rd L L Gram Time: 29.3 58.2 (28.4) 1:28.2 (30.0) 1:56.1 (27.4) VIDEO:   Race 9 Three Year Old Colts & Geldings - Championship Illinois Conceived and Foaled Winner: He`zzz A Wise Sky (3, H Yankee Skyscaper - Gimmeazzzmooch - Four Starzzz Shark) 2nd Rg`s Tracer 3rd Ryans Ambassador Time: 28.3 56.4 (28.1) 1:25.3 (28.4) 1:52.1 (26.3) VIDEO:   Race 10 Topline (Illinois Trotting & Pacing Assoc.) - 3 yo & Up Winner: Yankee Bounty (8, G Yankee Cruiser - Bootleg Yankee - Allamerican Native) 2nd Artofficial Flavor 3rd Mingo Time: 28.2 56.2 (28.0) 1:24.3 (28.1) 1:52.4 (28.1) VIDEO:   Race 13 Three Year Old Colts & Geldings - Championship Illinois Conceived and Foaled Winner: On Higher Ground (3, G Cassis - Lady Madonna - Angus Hall) 2nd Crooked Creek 3rd Fox Valley Quest Time: 29.1 57.4 (28.3) 1:27.1 (29.2) 1:56.2 (29.1) VIDEO: Eric M. Poders

(Mt. Sterling, Illinois)--Graduates of the Illinois Classic Yearling Sale have continued an active late-spring campaign, combining to win ten stakes races in the span of four days (June 13-16), including a sweep of both divisions of the opening leg of the Erwin Dygert Series for three-year-old trotting colts and geldings at Hawthorne Racecourse in Stickney, Illinois. Desert Sheik and Fox Valley Kobe, both gelded sons of Pizzazzed and both bred and sold by Fox Valley Standardbreds, finished 1-2 in the opening division of the Dygert Sunday evening in 1:59, while Fox Valley Quest (Pizzazzed) won the second division over fellow sales graduate On Higher Ground (Cassis) in 1:57.4. Fox Valley Quest was also bred and sold by the Fox Valley crew, while On Higher Ground came from the consignment of K.E.M. Standardbreds. The four trotters have earned a combined $221,000 in their careers, after being purchased for a combined total of $53,000. Desert Sheik races for owners Mark Brown, Dean Biggs, and trainer Mike Brink, while Fox Valley Kobe is owned by trainer Jim Eaton, Michael Brown, and the Estate of F. Phillip Langley. Carl Lacy and Benita Simmons share ownership in Fox Valley Quest, who is trained by Tom Simmons, with All-Wright Racing and trainer Mike Brink the co-owners of On Higher Ground. On Saturday at Hawthorne, sales grads Fox Valley Ren and Fox Valley Exploit had gotten things started for breeder-consignor Fox Valley Standardbreds, winning legs of the Robert Carey Jr. Memorial and the Plum Peachy, respectively, in 1:53.3 and 1:55. Both are offspring of Sportsmaster, and the two have accumulated $186,000 in earnings, following a combined purchase price of $65,000. The former races for Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc. and trainer Nelson Willis, while the latter campaigns for owners David Brigham and Kyle Husted, with Husted also the trainer-driver. Sign Her Up (Sagebrush), a $3000 sales alumnus bred and sold by Fair Meadow Farm, was runner-up to Fox Valley Exploit and now boasts career earnings of $70,000 for owners R.B. Roper and Fabian Johnson and trainer Charles Arthur. In other Saturday action, Amazon Princess nabbed a leg of the David Magee Series in 1:57.4 for owners Michael Anthony Stable, David and Joseph McCaffrey, and Clark Fairley. Trained by Fairley, the daughter of Party At Artsplace won for the first time in eight career starts, justifying her $10,000 purchase price from the consignment of Jeffers Farm and breeders Mary Lea Jeffers and Adele Jeffers Everett. Fox Valley Extacy and Fox Valley Lush capped a busy weekend for Fox Valley-breds at Hawthorne Sunday evening, finishing 1-2 in a leg of the Beulah Dygert Series for three-year-old trotting fillies, in 1:59.2. The two daughters of Pizzazzed, both graduates of the 2018 Illini Classic, have combined for more than $50,000 in earnings. Fox Valley Extacy races for owners Kevin Miller, Ryan and Bert Hochsprung, and David Falzone, while Fox Valley Lush is owned by Robert Silberberg, John R. Schwarz Jr., trainer Jim Eaton, and the F. Phillip Langley Estate. Illini Classic graduates added another four victories during Tuesday’s program of county fair stakes racing at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, led by Super Park with the fastest mile of the day, in 1:54.2. Trained by Nick Prather for owners Cole and Connor Prather and George Pollock, the gelded son of Duneside Perch was bred and sold by Fair Meadow Farm. BC’s Tufftiger, bred and sold by Larry (Brad) Price, upped his record to 3-for-3, taking a division of the two-year-old colt and gelding pace in 1:57.1 by 15 lengths. The gelded son of Walker Place is trained by Roshun Trigg for owner Jeremy Cavitt. Western Perch, owned by Douglas Bowen, Alan Bowen, and Troy Markert, copped a division of the three-year-old colt and gelding pace, as the altered son of Duneside Perch stopped the timer in 1:58. Alan Bowen serves as trainer, having purchased Western Perch from the consignment of breeder Fair Meadow Farm in 2018. Shady Maple Spirit added his name to the list of winning sales grads on the afternoon, as the son of Yankee Valor captured a division of the two-year-old colt and gelding trot in 2:05 by 14 lengths for owners Dennis Gardner and Dustin Fitch. Trained and driven by Gardner, Shady Maple Spirit sold at last year’s Illini Classic for $8,000 from the consignment of Farrier’s Acres as agent for Freeman Mast, with Kenneth Chupp as breeder. ........................................................... (Effingham, Illinois) -- Harness horses with local and area connections have continued to do well across the state in recent days, led by a pair of stakes wins last weekend at Hawthorne Race Course near Chicago, Illinois. Fox Valley Exploit, a three-year-old pacing filly from the barn of owner-trainer-driver Kyle Husted of Altamont, Illinois, won a leg of the Plum Peachy Series last Saturday night in 1:55. Co-owned by David Brigham of Concord, Michigan, Fox Valley Exploit has notched $100,000 in career earnings, after being purchased by Husted for $22,000 as a yearling. Also reaching the winner's circle at Hawthorne Race Course was Desert Sheik, who won a leg of Sunday's Erwin Dygert series for three-year-old trotters in 1:59 for co-owner Dean Biggs of Altamont, Illinois. Trained by co-owner Mike Brink, Desert Sheik has won $66,000 in his lifetime, after being purchased as a yearling by Biggs for $12,000. Mark Brown of Chatham, Illinois, also owns an interest in the horse. Easy E O, owned by Chuck Doehring of Brownstown and trained by Charleston's Jill Brown, finished third behind Desert Sheik. On Tuesday at the Illinois State Fairgrounds - Illinois Dept. Of Agriculture in Springfield, Illinois, BBR Lady upped her record to three wins in as many starts, capturing the Illinois Fair Stakes two-year-old filly trot for owners Elizabeth Roedl of Edgewood, Illinois, and Freddie Patton Jr. of Clinton, Mississippi . BBR Lady led all the way and won by four lengths. In the following race, Emsroscopcoletrain took runner-up honors in a division of the two-year-old colt and gelding trot for owner Jacob Roedl of Edgewood, Illinois. Other horses recording top-three finishes included Clearly The Bomb, who was third in the two-year-old filly pace for owner-trainer-driver Angie Coleman, formerly of Altamont, Illinois, and TE's Smoothas Silk, who finished third in the sophomore filly pace for owner T.E. Harre Jr., formerly of Brownstown, Illinois. ...........................................................   (Newton, Illinois)--A horse with Newton, Illinois, connections pulled a 70-1 shocker in the opening race Tuesday night at Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson, Indiana, as Phabaj (pronounced FAH buh) won a $10,000 leg of the Jera Larkins Memorial for driver Jared Finn.   Owned by Finn Racing LLC and trained by Jared's father, Jd Finn, Phabaj returned $142 on a $2 win ticket in her first start in more than seven months. The three-year-old trotting filly went the one-mile distance in 1:56.1, as she bumped her career bankroll to $33,000 in 14 starts.   The Finn Stable also sent 11-1 outsider La Nancio to the post in a separate division of the same race, and the filly responded with a runner-up effort despite an eight-month layoff.   Tuesday night's card marked a return to racing for Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing and Casino for the first time since the onset of restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.   The races were contested without spectators in the stands, as wagering was facilitated through online accounts and simulcast locations. (Originally composed by Kurt Becker, Altamont, Illinois, disseminated by The Horseman's Voice)    

STICKNEY, IL - With horsemen eager to get back onto the track, spectator-free harness racing moved into its second week at Hawthorne after a nearly three month break. With a lot of action to pack into a short time, stakes prep action kicked off with the first legs of many of the Night of Champions races. While the 12 race Friday card featured a continuation of series races, it was the open-company feature that stole the show. Marking his return to the track was past Illinois-bred champ Fox Valley Gemini. The Jim Ballinger owned Gemini was impressive in victory, rallying from off the pace for driver Casey Leonard to win in 1:51.2. The Terry Leonard trainee was one of a pair of winners on the Friday card as Trashytonguetalker (1:55.0) was an easy winner in one of the Club Hawthorne mini-series events. That win was Casey's second of the night. Friday's card saw a trio of additional driving doubles as Ridge Warren won the fourth race with Major Hart (1:58.1) and the night's finale behind Rock Steady Ron (1:54.1). Both of the Kyle's won a pair as well as Kyle Husted posted the driver/trainer double, winning race eight with Craftship (1:56.0) and the tenth behind Fox Valley Hijinx (1:55.0). Kyle Wilfong scored in the ninth with Major Legacy (1:54.2) and eleventh with Pacific Stride (1:54.1). The only three-bagger on the Friday card was produced by Mike Oosting. Mike took both ends of the early double, winning the opener with Waymore (1:54.1) followed by Fox Valley Hustler (1:54.1) in race two. Mike was back in the winner's circle in race six as Rockinsweetvictory (1:54.3) won going away. Saturday evening brought about the first of the Night of Champions preps. Illinois-bred three-year-old filly pacers kicked off the festivities in leg one of the Plum Peachy as the Kyle Husted trained and driven Fox Valley Exploit (1:55.0) was a game winner, catching Sign Her Up in the shadow of the wire. Leg one of the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial for Illinois-bred three-year-old colt and gelding pacers went as the fifth race on the Saturday card. The outside post was too much for last year's Night of Champions winner to overcome as He'zzz a Wise Sky was a game second behind Fox Valley Ren. Fox Valley Ren (1:53.3) was driven by Kyle Wilfong for trainer Nelson Willis. Open trotters took to the track in the eighth race Saturday as a Terry Leonard trained exacta took the co-feature. Call For Justice (1:55.4) was just able to hold on for driver Casey Leonard over Ridge Warren and Lindy's Big Bang. The only driving triple on the Saturday card was registered by Ridge Warren. He guided home talented Lousraptor (1:56.4) to an easy win in the night's opener for trainer Steve Searle. Warren was right back at it in race two, winning with Amazon Princess (1:57.4) for Clark Fairley. Warren capped off the evening lighting up the toteboard as Hello Art (1:54.1) came flying in the lane to win at 52-1 for trainer Mike Brink. Sunday evening started early at Hawthorne as a pair of non-wagering evenings saw two divisions of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial take to the track. The Dygert is for Illinois-bred three-year-old colt and gelding trotters. The first division was won gamely by Desert Sheik (1:59.0) as he battled and held off Fox Valley Kobe for driver Brandon Bates and trainer Mike Brink. The second division of the Dygert went easily to Fox Valley Quest (1:57.4), a winner for Casey Leonard and Tom Simmons. The 13 race pari-mutuel card followed the two non-wagering events as Illinois-bred three-year-old fillies and mares were the focus in leg one of the Beulah Dygert Memorial. A clever drive by Brandon Bates was enough to weave Fox Valley Extacy through traffic in the lane, winning in 1:59.2 over longshot Fox Valley Lush and favored Lous Abigail. Fox Valley Extacy is trained by Hector Herrera. Filly and mare open pacers were the Sunday co-feature as longshots finished one-two. Winning at 14-1 was Black Jack Pat (1:53.3) for driver Tyler Shehan, just catching 18-1 shot This Peach Rocks. In addition to his wins with Desert Sheik and Fox Valley Extacy, driver Brandon Bates made it three on the Sunday card, guiding home Lucky Jewel (1:54.3) in the night's finale, also for trainer Hector Herrera. Mike Oosting capped a strong weekend as he garnered another triple Sunday. He won race three with Frontier Rollo (1:53.), the fourth with Dirt E Rock (1:55.2), and eighth behind Gm Patty Lin (1:59.0). Gm Patty Lin capped the training triple for Mike Brink Sunday. A strong Sunday handle of over $1.2 produced another positive weekend of wagering at Hawthorne as the regular Friday through Sunday schedule continues. Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL - After a nearly three month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, live harness racing returned to Hawthorne Race Course last weekend. With safety protocols in place for horsemen and staff, spectators not allowed on-site to watch races, and with the time away from the track for many horses, there was some uncertainty as to how entries and handle would be as racing returned. Those questions were answered quickly and emphatically by the Illinois horsemen as two packed days of qualifiers were followed by an overflowing entry box for racing's return. With two days of qualifiers on June 1 and June 3, 29 qualifying races were contested at Hawthorne leading into the racing weekend. With the two-day racing weekend ahead, over 450 horses were entered, leading to a pair of 13 race cards on June 6 and June 7. Full fields were the trend the entire weekend as talented Terror of the Nite (1:55.1) was the first to find his way into the winner's circle for driver Robert Smolin and trainer Kyle Husted. Following an injury last winter, Husted wasted little time making his winning return as a driver, guiding home Adios Amigos (1:55.2) in Saturday's second race. The meet's leading driver, Casey Leonard, drove home back to back winners as Ricky Bobbie (1:54.0) upset favored Rebel Rouser in the fourth race and favored Rock It Out (1:54.3) was an easy winner of the fifth. Race eight featured open pacers and the return of last summer's two-year-old Night of Champions winner He'zzz a Wise Sky. Despite facing older, He'zzz a Wise Sky was patiently handled by Robert Smolin, slipping through late on the inside for the victory in 1:53.1. Smolin would go on to complete the night's only driving triple as he lit up the toteboard in race 12 with 55-1 shot Big Bad Mosa drawing clear. The full fields on Saturday evening also set the tone for a strong night in regards to handle as over $1 million was wagered on the Saturday card. Sunday night brought about more of the same, as full fields, competitive racing, and solid handle figures were on tap once again. A trio of drivers were the story on Sunday evening, a pair who have won many a race in recent years while another had quite the gap between victories. Driver Brandon Bates has made himself known to the Illinois racing fan, coming into town to drive when not racing at Hoosier Park. Bates had himself a nice Sunday night at Hawthorne. He started his evening winning the second race, an open trot, as Pine Dream controlled the pace from start to finish, winning in 1:56.3. Bates was back in the winner's circle in race seven as Skyway Trooper (1:55.0) battled to a victory. Bates closed out his driving triple with a rallying win behind Iceneedswhiskey (1:56.1.) in race 12. Travis Seekman had a nice season in 2019 at Hawthorne and looked sharp in his return after the three month break from racing. Seekman also had a driving triple on Sunday, taking race three with Americanboy (1:54.2). He followed that win up with a score behind Tempus Seelster (1:52.4) in the filly and mare open pace. He capped off the night the right way, winning the finale behind Rollinwithdesire (1:58.0), a homebred for owner/trainer wife Desirae Seekman. The third driving story of the night came in race five. Race five was won by the talented trotter Lous Paisano in 2:00.0. Guiding Lous Paisano to the win was driver Scott Robbins. With over 1,000 lifetime victories and nearly $4 million in earnings, the name Scott Robbins was only familiar to those who followed Illinois harness racing in the 80's and 90's. Prior to Sunday's win, Robbins last pari-mutuel victory had come on September 18, 1998 at Maywood Park. Robbins will be seen much more in the coming weeks as he continues to pick up drives. It was 31 years ago this week (June 14, 1989) that Robbins became the fourth driver to record two dead-heats for win on the same card, at Quad City Downs; J.P. Morel (Saratoga), Harold Stead (Greenwood), and Tom Swift (Batavia) achieved the same feat ("POP" records section of USTA T&P Guide, source).   The last time a driver had two dead-heats to win on one card, at least in the trade press according to my memory, was also at Hawthorne, on January 7, 2018 -- which added a new wrinkle to the category. Casey Leonard guided Mighty Hot Shot to a first-pace tie in the 8th alongside Bestnotlie Hanover, and then in the 10th the camera could not separate the first THREE finishers: Picky Picky Valor (Leonard), Keep The Cash, and Skyway Jaylo -- putting Leonard in the 2 DHs to win on one card category as the sole member of one of those wins including a DH-DH-DH, cross-checking the two known lists. Handle on Sunday was strong as well, falling only a hair shy of $1.5 million. With the strong handle and overflowing entry box, racing returns this weekend to three days per week, racing Friday through Sunday night. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, returned for live harness racing on Saturday, February 15 and races through Sunday, September 20. Post time nightly is 7:10 PM. Hawthorne races live during the summer harness meet every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 2 through December 26. For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700. Jim Miller

June 2, 2020 (Stickney, IL) -- In close coordination with industry stakeholders and government regulators, Hawthorne Race Course will implement stringent new protocols for the return of live horseracing without on-site fans, also known as "studio racing."    Races will be hosted two nights per week on Saturdays and Sundays beginning June 6th.  Live racing was suspended at Hawthorne on March 16th under Governor Pritzker's emergency declaration, however as an agribusiness in the care of animals, essential operations on Hawthorne's backstretch have continued where approximately 450 horses are stabled.    The new protocols require a minimal increase in on-site staffing and strict adherence to social distancing and other health safety guidelines.   "On behalf of the entire industry, we're very thankful to the Governor and the Department of Agriculture for working with us to create a solution that recognizes the unique needs and challenges of horseracing," said Tim Carey, president and general manager of Hawthorne Race Course.  "There are hundreds of small businesses across the state that rely on racing at Hawthorne so this will be a boost for the Illinois economy that will not impede efforts to flatten the curve of the spread of Covid-19."   As race tracks across the country begin to reopen under similar scenarios, Hawthorne will be one of the first tracks to host harness racing.  The new protocols for Standardbred harness racing include (but are not limited to): Pre-race paddocking of horses in open-air barns with additional spacing between stalls Limited access to the paddock by licensed, essential racing personnel only Mandatory temperature checks and facial coverings for all workers and residents in stable area Nightly spray disinfecting of the entire paddock and ship-in barn Expanded quarters for harness drivers to maintain social distancing Separate office space for racing judges, stewards and timers Comprehensive studio racing protocols were developed with approval from The Governor's Office, The Department of Agriculture, The Department of Public Health, The Cook County Department of Health, The Village of Stickney, The Illinois Racing Board, and The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association.  Hawthorne estimates that no more than 25 additional people will be required at the 113-acre facility to conduct live racing as compared to care and training-only operations and that racing will be possible under recommended social distancing guidelines.   "Horsemen are very resilient by nature, but this change comes just in time for our members," said Tony Somone, executive director of the Illinois Harness Horsemen Association.  "On average it costs $1500/month to take care of a racehorse whether it's racing and earning money or not.  Most trainers have between 5 and 10 horses and we haven't been racing for nearly three months so many of these businesses are at a breaking point."   Fans will be able to watch and wager on Hawthorne's races online or through licensed mobile apps, including Club Hawthorne (available in the app store or at  In accordance with Illinois' Phase 3 Reopening Guidelines for non-essential retail businesses, Hawthorne began to offer "bet-and-go" services at the race track as well as at certain suburban off-track facilities beginning on Friday, May 29.     Hawthorne Race Course  

Springfield, IL — Weather permitting, harness racing qualifiers will be held at Springfield, Ill., on Friday (May 29) and Saturday (May 30) at 11 a.m. Entries can be made online or by phone Thursday (May 28) and Friday (May 29) from 7-10 a.m. by calling LeAnn Shinn at 618.783.2589. All horses must have a current Coggins on file and a current EHV. Please submit these ASAP by e-mail (, fax (618.783.2589) or text photos to 217.433.8938. Entry fees will be determined by the number of horses to qualify. We will try to use the fair’s racing office. By LeAnn Shinn  

Editor’s Note: USTA director and Hawthorne Race Course’s Director of Publicity, Jim Miller, sent the following letter to the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association this week, explaining the delays in resuming live harness racing in the state of Illinois This will be quite detailed, but here goes. The second week of March was when the Executive Order was put into place by Governor Pritzker. At that time there were a few things stated that indirectly pertained to racing that Hawthorne, Fairmount, and horsemen had to follow. First was in regard to residents and the care for horses. The EO (Executive Order) stated that landlords were not allowed to evict residents during the length of the order. What many don’t know is that Hawthorne has over 500 residents on the backstretch. Of those residents, the vast majority work with the Thoroughbred horses and remain on the grounds of Hawthorne as they await Arlington Park to open their backstretch. Nothing in the order states Arlington cannot open their backstretch but they have chosen not to do so and cannot be forced to open. Second, the order stated that essential work surrounding agriculture was allowed to continue. In Illinois, horse racing and the racing industry falls under the Department of Agriculture. Therefore the daily care, training, and medical operations that take place on the backstretch are allowed to continue and are essential. Please know that at no time during this period has Hawthorne intended on kicking out horses or residents. Here’s where things get bad for our industry unfortunately. In the same EO, while residents, horses, and those who care for the horses remain, Hawthorne Race Course and our OTB locations were deemed as entertainment and not agriculture and were forced to close. These locations are regulated by the state of Illinois and thus are subject to losing their licenses if we disobey the order. During the vast majority of the time we have been shuttered, Hawthorne Race Course held host status as well. Host status is important as this is the mechanism to fund both purses for the horsemen and commissions for the racetrack. Therefore, aside from the ClubHawthorne online app, there has been basically no income for the purses for the horsemen or the racetrack for operations. Thus, we look at a situation where operations are forced to continue at Hawthorne without any income for all involved. For where we are for racing. From the start of this EO, we at Hawthorne have been in constant contact with members of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the IHHA, ILHBA at Fairmount Park, Fairmount Park management, the RICF, and members of city, county and state departments of Public Health. Since both Hawthorne and Fairmount were racing at the time of the order and want to get back to racing, even without spectators, we have worked in a coordinated effort. What also needs to be understood is that even if we got back to racing, without fans, it is done in a way to provide for the racing industry to survive and have a chance at income. Even if we wagered $3 million a night through ADW, that would barely cover purses and as a racetrack without on-site fans or fans at OTBs, we would be lucky to break even. We understand the importance of purse income to our horsemen though and the need to keep horsemen in business. Three weeks ago the staff of the Governor came to the racetracks, horsemen’s groups, and Illinois Department of Agriculture asking for a plan to be formulated for a safe return to racing. We immediately got to work with all involved on plans that would be implemented with strict safety precautions. Early in this process we received more input from the Governor’s staff on what protocols they would like in place. All of that information is included in our five page plan that was submitted to the Governor three weeks ago. Where we stand now is this, we await an answer from the Governor or his staff. I can tell you that members of the racetracks, members of the horsemen’s associations, and members of the Illinois Department of Agriculture all were told weeks ago that an answer was coming soon. Since that time Tony Somone and Clark Fairley have worked phones on behalf of the IHHA, Jim Watkins is constantly working on behalf of the ILHBA, and our staff and lobbyists are asking daily for any response as well. In recent days the Governor’s staff has not replied. Trust me, we want to get back to racing. We can get back to racing very quickly if allowed. Our protocols are likely more strict than tracks that have continued to race through this pandemic along with tracks that are returning to race. Unfortunately all we can do now is wait for an answer. We cannot jeopardize the loss of a racing license though by disobeying the order. Hopefully this helps and please know representatives of all affected by this are working very hard to get us back to racing as soon as possible. For all of the latest news on the resumption of racing, visit the USTA COVID-19 Resource Center. by Jim Miller, for Hawthorne Race Course

CHICAGO — The daily schedule of harness racing trainer Hosea Williams hasn’t changed much since COVID-19 started to batter Illinois’ economy. He still rises at 4 a.m. each day and heads for the stables of Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero where his six Standardbreds await their daily exercise. There is one difference, though. Once the weekend comes, there will be no racing — and thus, even as his expenses mount, no income. “I’ve got a payroll — not a huge one, but I pay three people every week,” Williams said. “I will be OK. But you’ve got people there who are not OK.” Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order issued to combat the coronavirus outbreak has hammered many trades, but none more than the equine industry. From racetracks to trail rides, many who make a living through horses have seen their incomes dry up almost entirely. But unlike other businesses, horse owners say, they can’t merely hunker down and wait for things to get better. Frizell Thomas, left, is shown at Hawthorn Race Course on Thursday. The Pandemic is expected to have a devastating impact on the Industry “If you’ve got a movie theater, you shut it down and put a closed sign in the window,” said Gerald Hansen, a Monee-based owner and trainer of harness horses. “With horses, they’ve got to eat every day. They’ve got to be worked every day. If this thing goes more than a month, we’re in deep trouble.” Hawthorne began its season the second week of February but got in only five weekends of harness racing before it had to close. No racing means no betting, no purses and no way to offset the roughly $1,500 in monthly expenses each horse racks up. Hosea Williams with his horse, Rollin Coal, at Hawthorn Race Course on Thursday in Cicero. STACEY WESCOTT, CHICAGO TRIBUNE The track briefly planned to keep racing without fans in the stands -- betting would have continued online -- but shut down entirely after Pritzker limited the size of public gatherings. About 600 horses are still boarding at the track, Hawthorne spokesman Jim Miller said, and the backstretch workers who care for them are still there too. He said the Cicero school district, which many of the workers’ children attend, is providing meals for the kids. The stay-at-home order runs through April 7, meaning the track will be idle for at least two more weekends. But Pritzker has suggested the order could be extended, a thought that unnerves the harness racing community. “As this goes on, two weeks, three weeks, we could be OK,” said Tony Somone of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association. “But as it hits four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, we’re going to see some horsemen struggle to feed themselves and feed their horses.” Should it come to that, some will have to sell their horses in a glutted marketplace, though Hansen said the destination of last resort isn’t the proverbial glue factory — it’s Amish country, where families use harness horses to pull buggies. Somone said some in the sport are pursuing emergency small business loans offered by the state, though he questioned whether the money would arrive before racing resumes. The situation isn’t much better with thoroughbreds. The racing season at Arlington International Racecourse is supposed to begin May 1, but that start date seems unlikely. The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which represents owners and trainers, was still negotiating a contract with the track when major sporting events began to be canceled. The talks have remained on hold since no one is certain when public gatherings will again be allowed, said executive director David McCaffrey. “It’s very much shooting in the dark,” he said. Churchill Downs Inc., which owns Arlington International, did not return a request for comment. Though some tracks elsewhere in the country remain in operation, Chris Block, an Illinois-based trainer and breeder, said many horses have nowhere to race. Thoroughbred sales have also felt the impact of the virus: Upcoming auctions have been postponed after the last one saw many horses sold for a fraction of their value, if they sold at all. “A lot of those buyers are heavily involved in the stock market and were hesitant to buy horses (after the market tanked),” he said. Other corners of the industry are also feeling the pain. Paula Briney, president of the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois, boards and trains 30 horses near Springfield, and said while fees for those services have continued to come in, that won’t last forever in the coronavirus economy. .............................................................................. Horsemen's Council of Illinois March 24 at 3:26 PM ·  Horsemen’s Council of Illinois - Statement on COVID-19 The Governors executive order states that all Illinois residents are to stay at home if at all possible. If they are using outside space, they must maintain social distancing of at least six feet. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside of a single household or living unit are prohibited. Any gathering of more than ten people is prohibited. All places of public amusement are closed to the public. Horse stables should be considered as such and should be closed to the public except for facility owners and/or essential staff unless arrangements with facility owners have been made to limit exposure to all parties. Only maintenance of the animals (they should be fed and watered as appropriate) housed on these properties should be conducted at this time and this maintenance should be conducted by a limited number of people. All recommendations are to be considered guidance and not legal advice. For further questions pertaining to your situation please contact your Local Health Department or the Department of Public Health. • Closure of facilities to boarders and guests • Cancel riding lessons and training sessions • Essential care of horses should be performed by facility owner(s) and essential staff • Emergency Veterinary and farrier care should be allowed. Facility Owner(s) and staff will assist vet/farrier. Boarder participation should be evaluated on a case by case basis. • Boarders wanting to pick up equipment, tack or personal belongings should contact the facility owner(s). Where possible, boarders could arrange “curb-side” type pickup. For more information please visit the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois Website at ................................................................ The “Shelter in Place” order is difficult for many but please remember that although you can likely survive the Coronavirus, you might carry it to someone who might not be able to survive. This is a temporary situation but with compliance from all we can flatten the curve and return to the full equine lifestyle we share. “The longer this drags out, the more (parts of the industry) this is going to affect, and people will struggle to stay in business and/or keep their horses,” she said. Stables that provide trail rides or lessons are already hurting, she said, though some patrons are underwriting the care of favorite horses despite being unable to ride them. The carriage business run by Tony Troyer near Mendota has taken a big hit, too, with all of his events in April and May on hold. Still, he expressed a note of optimism, saying people in the equine business are naturally resilient and resourceful. “At some point this is all going to turn around,” he said. “We just don’t know where the end of the tunnel is yet because we’re still right smack in the middle.” BY JOHN KEILMAN  Reprinted with permission of The Chicago Tribune  

Billy Johnston will be remembered as the most important and influential individual in the history of pari-mutuel harness racing in Illinois and a pillar of the sport in North America for a half century. “I started working with Billy in 1965 and for the next 50 years we had a sometimes contentious but very successful relationship,” said Phil Langley, who served as USTA president from 2003-16. “In my opinion, the success of harness racing in Illinois was due to Billy’s promotional instincts and time after time coming up with new ideas.” The man who left an indelible imprint on the sport died on March 26, 2020 at age 84. “He was a genius in this industry,” said Illinois Circuit Court Judge Lorna Propes, a member of the Illinois Racing Board for 17 years starting in 1989 and its chairman from 2003-06. Johnston’s 45 years of service as a USTA director was exceeded in longevity only by Corwin Nixon’s 47 years. From the mid-1960s through 1997 Johnston headed the Chicago Downs Associations and Fox Valley Trotting Club meetings at Sportsman’s Park, firmly establishing it as one of the premier harness tracks in North America until the sport was discontinued in October 1997. At times during the 1970s Sportsman’s harness meetings outhandled the matinee meeting at one of the nation’s premier Thoroughbred tracks, Arlington Park, located in the same metropolitan Chicago market. “There is no denying that Sportsman’s is one of the most progressive tracks in the nation, striving to do its best for racing buffs and the Chicago racing community,” Jerry Connors wrote in the September 1984 issue of Hoof Beats. The same could be said for Maywood Park and Balmoral Park when Johnston headed the chain-of-command at those Chicago circuit tracks. In 1977 he put together the ownership group of Pat Flavin, Dick Roggeveen, Lester McKeever and Sid Anton that secured a long-term lease to race at Maywood. Early in 1987, under his leadership, members of that ownership group joined with Hawthorne Race Course owners Tom and Bob Carey and members of the family of the New York Yankees’ principal owner, George Steinbrenner, to buy Balmoral Park. Originally all of the Chicago area track owner/operators were planning to pool their resources to buy Balmoral from Edward J. DeBartolo but then Arlington owner Dick Duchossois threw a curveball by announcing he had reached an independent agreement to buy the track. Encouraged by his son, John, Johnston immediately contacted Steinbrenner, with whom he’d established a friendly relationship during visits to one of the four dog tracks he co-owned in Florida. Steinbrenner was eager to stay involved in racing. He had been a 48 percent owner of the Thoroughbred track Tampa Bay Downs before being outbid by his 52 percent partner, Stella Thayer, when they put the track up for auction in December 1996 and she then took control. When Johnston made the Balmoral pitch, he was receptive. Steinbrenner’s family and a business associate invested 50 percent of the $8 million that Johnston offered DeBartolo for the track. DeBartolo felt he owed Steinbrenner a favor and pulled out of the deal with Duchossois. While Steinbrenner had the reputation of being a control fanatic, he announced: “What we do at Balmoral is up to Billy Johnston. I’ll get him the sponsors. After that I don’t have anything to do with it.” Later the Steinbrenner family bought out the Carey brothers’ shares in Balmoral and the holdings of Flavin and Roggeveen in Balmoral and Maywood. “They worked together very well,” Roggeveen said of the Johnston/Steinbrenner partnership. “Billy knew the business through and through and Steinbrenner added a little more muscle. Billy loved the business. He was a natural for it and Phil Langley was hand in glove with Billy in everything.” “I know it will surprise some but Billy was great to work with and very supportive, a good friend for many years,” Langley said. Like Steinbrenner, former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar had great respect for Johnston. “I enjoyed being around Balmoral,” said Edgar, who bred and owned Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds before and after his two terms as governor (1991-99). “Billy was probably as smart a businessman as anybody I ran into in the horse business. I always thought he was a resourceful guy to deal with. “He knew what he had to do to make the tracks viable. He kept an eye on the bottom line so they could stay in business. He wasn’t going to give away any money; you knew that up front. At the same time you always knew he wouldn’t ask for everything. He’d be willing to compromise. If he had to do a compromise with the other tracks or the horsemen you knew he could work something out. “I always found him to be a good person to have in racing.” Johnston headed the hierarchy during the heyday of Illinois harness racing at Sportsman’s in the 1970s and later at Balmoral and Maywood from 1998 through 2015. With him at the helm, Maywood inaugurated its richest and most prestigious race, the Windy City Pace, in 1983 and hosted the inaugural Breeders Crown 2-year-old filly pace in 1984. The following year Sportsman’s was the site of the inaugural Breeders Crown older trot. Johnston’s Sportsman’s and Maywood/Balmoral management teams conducted harness racing after pari-mutuel racing was introduced at the State Fairs at Du Quoin and Springfield and they inaugurated the state’s richest Standardbred race, the World Trotting Derby, in 1981 to replace the Hambletonian, which moved from its long-time home in Du Quoin to The Meadowlands that year. The $700,000 purse for the 1991 World Trotting Derby is an Illinois record that still stands. ‘They did a great job of running the fairs,” Judge Propes said. “They made those into national meets and did a lot of innovative things there to interest fans and push the industry forward. Billy was a true innovator, so prolific and always looking for something to improve.” Year after year the American-National series races lured the finest horses in North America to Sportsman’s and later Balmoral, as did the Windy City Pace at Maywood and the World Trotting Derby and the World Trotting Derby Filly Division at Du Quoin (before they were discontinued following their 2009 renewals because of the state’s continuing budget crisis). In 1988 Sportsman’s had 24 stakes races — 16 of which had purses of $100,000 or more — and stakes purses totaled $3.5 million. The caliber of horses who came to Sportsman’s and Balmoral for the American-Nationals was significantly superior to that which Arlington and Hawthorne attracted for their graded stakes races for Thoroughbreds (with the exception of 1986 when the 13-day tent meeting at Arlington was the greatest in Illinois Thoroughbred history and in 2002 when it hosted the Breeders’ Cup). Albatross in 1972 set his world record of 1:54.3 at Sportsman’s on his way to his second straight Horse of the Year title and such national brandnames as Rambling Willie, Falcon Seelster, Incredible Finale and Pacific later made it their home track. When Sportsman’s introduced the Super Night stakes race extravaganza for Illinois-breds in 1989 it immediately became the biggest night of the year in Illinois harness racing. Super Night’s great success continued at Balmoral after Sportsman’s ceased harness racing following its 1997 meeting for its brief and ill-fated $60 million transformation into an auto racing/Thoroughbred racing venue known as Chicago Motor Speedway. The $3,777,549 bet on Super Night on Sept. 16, 2000 at Balmoral stands as the highest harness handle in the pari-mutuel history of the sport in Illinois that dates back to 1946 at Maywood. “Billy was very persistent and very beneficial for racing in Illinois,” said Dr. Ken Walker, a former member of the USTA board of directors whose Walker Standardbreds is the state’s foremost Standardbred breeding farm. “Phil would throw stuff at him and Billy would take off with it.” In 1992 Balmoral enhanced its stakes schedule by adding the tradition-rich Hanover Stakes, which had led a nomadic existence after being introduced at Lexington in 1947. Before being consolidated and finding a home at Balmoral divisions of the Hanover were raced at Liberty Bell, Freestate Raceway, The Meadows, Rosecroft Raceway and Meadowlands. In 1995 Balmoral held races in conjunction with the World Driving Championships and its leading driver, Dave Magee, won the competition. The emphasis on quality wasn’t confined to the major racing events. After buying Balmoral, Johnston and his partners invested more than $10 million in renovations and upgrades. The clubhouse and grandstand were refurbished; the five-eighths-mile track was replaced with a one mile track; the hub rail was removed; a state-of-the-art lighting system was installed; and a new receiving barn and paddock were constructed adjacent to the grandstand to accommodate the 120 horses on a typical racing card. “As a track operator Billy was par excellence,” remembered Lester McKeever, who went on to become president of Harness Tracks of America after partnering with Johnston in the Maywood and Balmoral ownership groups. “He wasn’t always easy to get along with but he was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful man of integrity. Integrity was so important to him.” One of the measures Johnston took to ensure the integrity of the racing product was installation of a computerized diagnostic machine for pre-race testing for “milk-shaking,” the practice of tube-feeding a baking soda solution to horses about four hours before they race to block a buildup of lactic acid and thereby increase their resistance to fatigue by allowing access to oxygen reserves. Similar testing subsequently was adopted by other jurisdictions in the U.S. and Canada. Johnston and Langley’s innovations set the stage for off-track betting parlors in Illinois. At Sportsman’s in 1984 they pioneered inter-track simulcast betting with the Chicago Thoroughbred tracks. Using the argument that off-track betting parlors would be an extension of the inter-track betting network by allowing each track to have two satellite facilities within a 35-mile radius of the parent track, Johnston was instrumental in persuading the legislature to legalize OTB making Illinois the first state where it wasn’t government-run. Balmoral opened the first parlor in Peoria in 1987. In the fall of 1991 Maywood and Balmoral introduced dual-simulcasting on Friday and Saturday nights, a precursor to full-card simulcasting (that began in Illinois in 1995). The dual simulcasting programs at the mile track Balmoral would begin at 7:45 p.m., those at its little sister half-mile track Maywood would start at 8 p.m. and they would alternate races every 10 minutes until midnight. Johnston also had Balmoral and Maywood rotating racing nights. In addition to Friday and Saturday, Balmoral would have programs on Sunday and Tuesday and Maywood would race on Monday and Wednesday. This was in keeping with Johnston’s long-held conviction that racing six nights a week at the same location is detrimental to the sport. “There are too many races and there are horses and horsemen who really can’t make a go of it,” Connors quoted him as saying in the 1984 Hoof Beats story. “We have to start emphasizing quality over quantity. Everybody has to cut back.” Although calling for cutbacks sometimes put him in conflict with the leaders of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, he earned the enduring respect of Mickey Izzo, currently projects manager of the Illinois Racing Board and formerly executive secretary of the IHHA. “I was executive secretary of the IHHA from 1985-1998, I sat through many contract negotiations with him and what I can say about Billy was that he was tough but fair,” Ezzo said. Illinois Racing Board member Tom McCauley had a similar experience when he served as the legal counsel for Arlington. “I negotiated with him from time to time and I always liked him,” McCauley recalled. “Billy was a force of nature. Some people found that off-putting but it kind of energized me. He always was a straight shooter in negotiations. He did an awful lot for harness racing.” One of the reasons Johnston knew all of the ins and outs of racing was because of his family background and because of his experience as a harness driver, owner, trainer and breeder. His father, William Johnston Sr., was one of the founding fathers when the Hawthorne Kennel Club was remade into a Thoroughbred track in 1932 and renamed Sportsman’s Park. He went on to become president of Sportsman’s National Jockey Club in 1947 and served until 1967. Sportsman’s was used exclusively for Thoroughbred racing until 1949 when it added harness racing (three years after Maywood inaugurated pari-mutuel betting on the sport in Illinois). Langley’s father, Pete Langley, was a steward at the harness meeting and subsequently became a member of the track’s management team, working closely with Billy’s father in much the same way the sons started doing 20 years later and continued doing until 2015. By the early 1950s Billy was showing up at the track with regularity. After high school he went to the University of Miami (Fla.), where he also furthered his racing education by frequenting the greyhound and Thoroughbred tracks during the winter. After graduating from Miami in 1957 he fulfilled what in the era of the draft was known as “his military obligation” in the Coast Guard and was discharged in 1961. By then he was immersed in harness racing. Johnston recalled in a Chicago Tribune interview that he drove “for about a dozen years,” winning his first race at Maywood and his last at Washington Park. “That was before catch-driving became a big thing,” he said. “There were a lot of guys like me who drove their own horses.” William H. Johnston Jr. first appears in the USTA archives as a driver in 1958 but he probably drove earlier because prior to that year only drivers with 25 or more purse starts had their information recorded. The archives have him driving in 153 races from 1958 through 1966 and recording 20 triumphs, 13 seconds and 19 thirds and earning $22,047 in purses. By far his best year was 1958 when he won nine of 53 starts and had $8,329 in earnings. “The first horse I had was Key Club,” he said. “It was around 1954. Del Miller sent her to me after she made breaks at Roosevelt Raceway. She was considered dangerous and unmanageable. I was told ‘put her nose on the gate and hold on’ and I did what I was told. She won and paid around $44 and her time was the fastest of the night but it was no great time.” Stormy Bidwill succeeded the ailing William Johnston Sr. as president of the National Jockey Club in 1967. Thereafter Bidwill focused solely on Thoroughbred racing, while Billy Johnston continued to concentrate on harness racing with Phil Langley (who became race secretary in 1964) working as his right hand man. “Billy was an extremely good promoter and he got along well with all the big names in racing,” Langley said. “People don’t give him enough credit for all he did.” Just as Billy Johnston followed his father into racing so did his sons, John and Duke. After he moved up to chairman of the board in the 1990s John succeeded him as president of Balmoral and Duke succeeded him as president of Maywood. Like their father, both were innovators and they maintained the high standard of excellence that he had set during his years as a mover and shaker. “Billy’s tentacles reached throughout the industry and he had a great deal of respect from everyone, knowing he was not a pushover but also knowing he was fair,” said his former partner McKeever. “His word was his bond.” “Billy was very open-minded and very willing to come to self-examination,” said McCauley, speaking from both the perspective of his present position as a Racing Board member and his former position as Arlington’s attorney in which he often was an adversary at the bargaining table. “Billy would test ideas and he was thorough in his investigations. “In my evaluation he was very, very good for Illinois racing. I can’t think of anyone who can take his place.” by Neil Milbert Courtesy of the United States Trotting Association

STICKNEY, IL - In consultation with, and approval from the Illinois Racing Board, Hawthorne Race Course will close its public wagering facilities at the harness racing track and all Illinois off-track betting locations to limit the spread of COVID-19. The decision was made in support of Governor Pritzker's mandate that all Illinois bars and dine-in restaurants close on-site operations until March 30th. In cooperation with the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, Hawthorne will host "studio racing" at its 113-acre facility. Races will be broadcast nationally allowing for mobile, online and retail wagering from venues in other states and around the globe. "Many people think of the race tracks as the only business entities involved in the operation of racing, but the truth is that there are hundreds of small businesses throughout the state owned and operated by Illinois horsemen. While we want the public to be able to enjoy live racing, these are unprecedented times. This option keeps people working in our industry and maintains the fitness and safety of horses while limiting public interaction," said Tim Carey, president and general manager of Hawthorne Race Course. Beginning with the Friday, March 20 racing card (Hawthorne's next scheduled night of racing), only personnel essential to conduct races will be allowed onto the grounds of Hawthorne. Additionally, only licensed personnel will be allowed into the backstretch and paddock area for racing and daily care of horses stabled at Hawthorne. On-site wagering at Hawthorne and Illinois OTBs will close beginning March 17th. Hawthorne will continue to work closely with the Illinois Racing Board, Governor's Office, and Illinois horsemen in keeping with the latest recommendations from the Center for Disease Control regarding business operations during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure the safety of the public. Jim Miller  

STICKNEY, IL - Week two of the harness racing season at Hawthorne was vastly different from opening weekend in regards to weather as temperatures rose by 20 degrees and a feeling of spring was in the air. Week two also produced some fine results for horses and barns that showed they were fit and ready for the early start to the racing season. One barn that has benefitted early on is trainer Steve Searle's stable. After a strong opening weekend that saw three Searle entrants find their way into the winner's circle along with four others finish second from nine starts, there was no slowing them down in week two. Things got off to a quick start for Searle on Saturday evening as Louscardamon trotted to victory in the night's opener in 1:58.0 for driver Casey Leonard, making her the first two-time winner of the meet. In the very next race we had our second repeat winner as Searle trained trotter, Louzotic (1:56.4) was impressive in winning right back over another Searle trainee in Lousraptor. Casey Leonard was in the bike with Louzotic, giving him the early double. After Illinois-bred Rollin Coal (1:55.4) was game in victory for driver Juan Franco and trainer Hosea Williams in race three, we had another two-time winner on the meet in the fourth race. Todd Warren trained and driven Always A Law (1:53.4) just held off Salvatore to win the fourth by a nose. The middle part of Saturday's 13 race card belonged to trainers Merv Chupp and Derek Burklund. Chupp trained Its Chocolate Time (1:58.4) trotted to a win for Brandon Bates in race five. Chupp also sent out Northern Angle (1:54.2) to a score for Casey Leonard in race eight. Derek Burklund trainees found the winner's circle three times Saturday. Race six saw a 6-1 upset as Luke's Rocketman (1:56.0) scored for Kyle Wilfong. The duo of Burklund and Wilfong was right back in the winner's circle the following race, this time with Castle Flight (1:51.1), a five length winner in a tough open pace. Tyler Shehan guided home 20-1 shot Holdonwe'rerolling (1:54.2) to a clear victory in race ten, leading a $161.80 Burklund exacta which saw his Adventure Bound finish second in that race. Saturday night closed with driver Casey Leonard getting his fourth win on the card as Ponda's Prospect (1:55.0) won race 12. Driver Kyle Wilfong capped Saturday night, grabbing his third victory of the evening as Boogie on Down (1:55.2) won the nightcap. Sunday night at Hawthorne was a tail of two halves as the first half of the card saw upsets aplenty while the second half was very chalky. The evening kicked off with 7-1 winner Toxic Rock (1:55.3) for driver Ridge Warren and trainer Mike Brink. It was bombs away in race two as Perfectly Dune (1:59.0) got up in the shadow of the wire for driver Travis Seekman to win at odds of 96-1 for trainer Matt Rodriguez. With a 48-1 third-place finisher and 28-1 fourth-place finisher in that race, the $.20 superfecta returned $12,187 to a single winner. In race three it was 10-1 shot Downwyn Shark (1:54.2) who was game on the front end for trainer Marna Shehan and driver Tyler Shehan. Third choice My Uptowne Girl (1:57.0) won race four, making her the fourth repeat winner on the meet, before 8-1 winner Queens N Tens (1:55.4) become the fifth two-time winner on the meet, scoring in race five. Despite the far outside draw, Dirt E Rock (1:56.2) was very impressive at first asking, winning her debut in race six for trainer Mike Brink as he was driven by Mike Oosting. Thought Provoking (1:55.4) won race seven, making her the sixth repeat winner in the first two weeks of racing. Leonard and Searle teamed up to win the eighth with Joe Joes Violet (2:00.4) before Tyler Shehan and Derek Burklund closed out the weekend with Pirates Alley (1:56.1) winning the Sunday finale. Two weeks in, driver Casey Leonard has moved to the top of the driver standings with nine wins. Brandon Bates continued his hot start as he is second in the standings with eight victories. Mike Oosting follows with six wins and Todd Warren has five. Trainer Steve Searle has sent out six winners to open the meet while 13 of his first 18 starters have found the board. Derek Burklund's good weekend moved him to second with four victories while Jace Sundeen and Terry Leonard are tied with three wins apiece. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, returned for live harness racing on Saturday, February 15 and races through Sunday, September 20. Post time nightly is 7:10 PM. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 2 through December 26. For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.   Jim Miller

STICKNEY, IL--After a string of weeks of gorgeous weather at Hawthorne Race Course, Mother Nature wasn't nearly as kind when it came to Saturday's Night of Champions. The 12 race card kicked off with a fast track, but the skies opened up prior to the start of the 11 stakes events, leaving for sloppy going through the stakes harness racing action.   THE ROBERT S MOLARO CHAMPIONSHIP Jim Ballinger's Fox Valley Gemini, two-time Illinois Horse of the Year, went off as the 1-5 favorite in the $45,000 Robert S. Molaro and didn't disappoint. Winning his fourth straight race, Fox Valley Gemini drew off to a commanding victory, getting the mile in a lifetime best of 1:50. At the finish, he was seven and a half lengths clear of the rest of the field. Dakota Roadster got up for second while Royale Rose got third. Driven by Casey Leonard and trained by Terry Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini won for the 30th time from only 39 starts. As written above, Fox Valley Gemini got the mile in 1:50 after fractions of :27.1, :59, and 1:22.3.   THE FOX VALLEY FLAN CHAMPIONSHIP Lous Abigail, winning for the seventh time in 10 starts, took Saturday's $82,000 Fox Valley Flan Championship, for three years old and up ICF Pacers. Driven by leading driver Casey Leonard and trained by Steven Searle, Lous Abigail won by a comfortable four and three-quarter lengths. Owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC, Lous Abigail got the mile in 2:00.1, after fractions of :29.4, :58.4 and 1:28.3 Bee See held on for second while Fox Valley Lush finished third.   THE INCREDIBLE TILLIE CHAMPIONSHIP Morning-line favorite but second-choice in the wagering, Fox Valley Exploit, owned by David Brigham and Kyle Husted, and driven and trained by Kyle Husted, won the $115,000 Incredible Tillie Championship, for two-year-old filly Trotters, by three and a half lengths. They raced through fractions of :29.4, :58.4, 1:28.3 with a final time of 2:00.1 Bee See, the slight wagering favorite, finished second with Lous Abigail getting up for third.   THE PLESAC CHAMPIONSHIP It was never really a contest. Danny S. Graham's Annas Lucky Star, already a track-record holder, simply dominated in Saturday's $45,000 Plesac Championship, for 3-year-olds and up ICF Trotters. She took the lead quickly and won as she pleased, going off at 1-9 and drawing off to win by 15 lengths. Her time of 1:56.3 was seconds slower than her lifetime best of 1:53.1 but it didn't matter. She set modest fractions of :30, :59, and 1:27.3. Trained by Nelson Willis and driven by Kyle Wilfong, Annas Lucky Star won for the 33rd time in her career, and her ninth from 15 starts in 2019. Primed N Powerful tracked all the way and held for second with Majistic Caprice finishing third.   THE BEULAH DYGERT MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP Flacco Family Farms' popular filly Louzotic made every pole a winning one in the $95,000 Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship, for 3-year-old ICF filly Trotters, on Saturday night. Winning for the 11th time in 15 starts this year, including her fifth straight, Louzotic had regular driver Kyle Husted in the bike. This talented filly is trained by Steven Searle. She finished six and a quarter lengths ahead of rival Heidi High with Lous Paramour getting up for the show dough. Louzotic led all the way through fractions of :29.1, :59.4, 1:29.4 with a final time of 1:58.3.   THE ERWIN F. DYGERT CHAMPIONSHIP Lourhianon, winning for the second straight time since getting Lasix, overcame the outside post position and the sloppy track to take the $92,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial, for 3-year-old ICF colts and geldings, going away. Owned by C Lawrence Mc Burney, trained by Kennedy Lindsey, and driven by Luke Plano, Lourhianon took the lead soon after coming out of the far turn, raced wide through the stretch and still won by six and three-quarter lengths. He got the mile in 1:57.3 after early fractions of :29.4, :59.3, and 1:29. Frontier Maynard grabbed second with For Trots Sakes coming in third.   THE KADABRA CHAMPIONSHIP When favored Fox Valley Quest broke coming out of the first turn in Saturday's $108,000 Kadabra Championship, for 2-year-old ICF colt and gelding Trotters, that opened up the opportunity for everybody else. Ed Teefey's Crooked Creek took advantage. Winning for the third straight time and the fifth time in nine races, Ryan Anderson guided this Mike Brink trainee to a six-length victory in 1:55.3. Desert Sheik, another Brink-trained Trotter, finished second. Longshot Fitchey For Fun snagged third place. Early fractions for the race were :29.4, :58.1. and 1:27.3.   THE INCREDIBLE FINALE CHAMPIONSHIP Triple Zzz's He'zzz A Wise Guy was a three and a quarter-length winner in Saturday's $102,000 Incredible Finale Championship. The race was for 2-year-old ICF colt and gelding Pacers. His victory was his fifth straight from only seven races. Trained by Donald Filomeno, He'zzz A Wise Guy was guided to the victory by Robert Smolin. Favored Fox Valley Ren, who had won seven of nine races, finished second with RJ Wulfy finishing third. He covered the mile in 1:55.0 after fractions of :28.3, :57/4 and 1:27.1   THE ROBERT F. CAREY, JR. MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP Fox Valley Triton, who was beaten as the favorite in his last leg of the Carey, made amends in the $109,000 Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial Championship on Saturday night. The Carey was for 3-year-old ICF colts and gelding pacers. Owned by Dandy Farms Racing, FT Racing and Peter A Kouchis, trained by Terry Leonard and driven by Casey Leonard (his third win of the night) Fox Valley Triton eked out a neck victory over Meyer On Fire. Maximus finished third. With fractions of :28.3, :57.3, 1:26.1, he got the mile in 1:54.1   THE PLUM PEACHY CHAMPIONSHIP Fox Valley Halsey made it two in a row with a victory in Saturday's $100,000 Plum Peachy. Owned by Cynthia Kay Willis, Ronnie J & Jerry D Graham, Fox Valley Halsey is trained by Nelson Willis and was driven by Juan Franco. Fox Valley Halsey finished a neck ahead of Fox Valley Lil Kim with Fox Valley Torrid a neck behind. He covered the mile in 1:54.4 after early fractions of :28.4, :58.1 and 1:25.3   THE TONY MAURELLO CHAMPIONSHIP Francis L Greer and James E Greer's Skeeter Machine won the finale on the Night of Champions. The race, The $45,000 Tony Maurello Championship, was for ICF 3-year-olds and up Pacers. Trained by Nicole Agosti and driven by Kyle Husted (his third victory of the night) Skeeter Machine won for the fifth time this year and the 17th time in his career. The final race of the night brought fractions of :28.1, :57, 1:25.1 with a final time of 1:54.0 Whiskersonkittens got up for second place, a half-length back, while there was a dead heat for third place between San Antonio Rose and Fox Valley Charm Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, returned for live harness racing on Friday, May 3. The summer harness meet opened on Friday, May 3 and races through September 22. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 10 through December 28. For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.   Jim Miller

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