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STICKNEY, IL - Following the conclusion of the spring thoroughbred season at Hawthorne Race Course, the track crew embarked once again on the surface conversion. As the only pari-mutuel track left in the United States to convert from a dirt thoroughbred surface to a limestone harness track, crews worked tirelessly stripping off dirt, removing rails, clearing barns and prepping the new surface, all in 96 hours, to prepare for the start of the summer harness racing season. Everything was prepped in time for horsemen to arrive on Saturday, May 1 as the summer harness season kicked off on Friday, May 7. When racing commenced on opening night, driver Kyle Wilfong was ready to pounce. Wilfong kicked off the racing season winning the meet opener behind Surreal Art (1:53.0) for trainer Perry Smith. That victory started a string of four straight trips to the winner's circle for Wilfong as he drove home Nora Tova (1:55.3), Wildcat Delight (1:55.1) and Castle Flight (1:52.0) to wins in races two through four. SURREAL ART REPLAY   Wilfong made it five victories on the opening night card as RSVP trotted home in 1:58.2 for trainer Nicole Agosti to take race eight. The weekend saw the return of some of the top Illinois-breds to the track as they did not disappoint. A pair of Illinois-bred champs faced off in Saturday's open pace as Fox Valley Gemini (1:50.4) just caught a very game He'zzz A Wise Sky, who battled every step of the way. Owned by Jim Ballinger, trained by Terry Leonard and driven by Casey Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini won for the 41st time from 62 career starts, surpassing half a million in career earnings. Casey and Terry Leonard teamed up later on the card as Cracklin Rosie (1:57.0) won race nine. FOX VALLEY GEMINI REPLAY   Todd Warren won a pair of races on Saturday, grabbing the filly and mare open pace with Maggie Rhee (1:54.1), a mare he also trains, as well as driving trotter Lucky Valerie (2:00.0) to her first career win for trainer Gerald Hansen. Kyle Wilfong grabbed his sixth victory of the racing weekend as rambunctious Crankin' It Up (pictured) made it two weekend wins for trainer Nicole Agosti, pacing home in the Saturday evening slop in 1:56.2. On Sunday some of the top Illinois-bred trotters made their season debut. Kicking off the evening trainer Steve Searle had a pair face off as Lousraptor (1:57.1) got the best of Louscardamon for driver Juan Franco, winning by a length and a half. Later in the evening driver Kyle Husted reunited with Louzotic as they took race seven in 1:58.3, the second training victory on the card for Searle. Driving doubles on the Sunday card came from Todd Warren, Ridge Warren, Atlee Bender and Kyle Wilfong. Wilfong's pair of winners boosted him to eight for opening weekend. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, races three meets in 2021. The spring thoroughbred meet concluded on April 25. The summer Suburban Downs at Hawthorne harness meet began on Friday, May 7 and races every Friday-Sunday through September 26. The fall thoroughbred meet opens October 1 and races through December 26. First post nightly for harness is 7:10 PM. For any information about Hawthorne Race Course visit the website For full race results, click here. by Jim MIller, for Hawthorne Race Course

Stickney, IL  -- On Friday, May 7th Standardbred race horses will return to the harness racing track at Hawthorne Race Course for a summer of live harness racing.  “Chicago’s hometown track” will host racing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night beginning at 7PM.  Capacity is currently limited to 50%, but now includes expanded outdoor seating in the new First Turn Terrace. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand for live sports entertainment and with harness racing you can get so close to the action,” said Tim Carey, president and general manager of Hawthorne Race Course.  “The view from the new First Turn Terrace is amazing because the horses are coming right at you and then go spinning away through the turn.” In addition to the trackside views, the outdoor space, including along the railing, provides for easy social distancing and pod seating at picnic tables.  Night racing at Hawthorne also features outdoor barbecue and bars. Founded in 1891, Hawthorne is celebrating its 130th year of live racing.  Harness racing first debuted at Hawthorne in 1970 and the track is now the only one in the United States to host both thoroughbred and Standardbred horses.  In harness racing, drivers--as opposed to jockeys--sit in a chariot-style cart called a sulky that is pulled by the horse, reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour in tightly packed groups of up to 10 horses.  Hawthorne features the longest homestretch in North America for harness racing allowing drivers and horses to rally late in come-from-behind victories. Admission and parking is free at Hawthorne Race Course. by Jim Miller, for Hawthorne Raceway

STICKNEY, IL - The best in the state of Illinois gathered on closing weekend as 11 harness racing stakes races were contested on Hawthorne Race Course's Night of Champions. The Hawthorne meet faced its challenges as it opened on February 15 and raced for four weeks before being halted due to the pandemic. After a two and a half month break, guidelines were implemented for a safe return to racing on June 6. Despite spectators not being allowed on-track, added interest in racing through ADW outlets and additional races added led to a 34% increase in average daily handle compared to 2019. The summer meet was capped with great performances on Night of Champions as the best in the state competed for nearly $1 million in purses. A look back at the Night of Champions finals: THE $68,000 ROBERT S MOLARO MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP Jim Ballinger's Fox Valley Gemini did it again. For the second year in a row, Fox Valley Gemini, trained by Terry Leonard, won the Robert S Molaro Memorial Championship for 3-year-old and up pacers. Guided to the winner's circle by Casey Leonard, the meet's leading driver with 130 victories, Fox Valley Gemini tracked pacesetting Al's Hammered through the first three quarters but assumed control approaching the far turn and drew off to a five and a quarter length victory. Al's Hammered held for second, narrowly holding off Bass Player. Fox Valley Gemini, bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds, got the mile in 150.1 after fractions of :27.4, :55.3 and 1:23. He paid $2.20 to win.   With the $34,000 earned for the victory, Fox Valley Gemini's career earnings stand at $485,468. THE $88,000 FOX VALLEY FLAN CHAMPIONSHIP Loulita, the 1-9 favorite, left little to doubt in her easy victory in Saturday's Fox Valley Flan Championship for ICF 2-year-old filly trotters. Driven by Casey Leonard and trained by Steven Searle, this talented filly won for the sixth time in nine starts. Bred by Flacco Family Farms and owned by Flacco Family Farms and Dr. Patrick Graham, Loulita raced in third early but took the lead midway on the backstretch and was never challenged after that; ultimately winning by four lengths. Myonly Sin came on late to finish second with Breeze At Sunset getting up for third. After fractions of :30.0, 1:00.1, and 1:29.4 Loulita got the mile in a lifetime best of 1:59.2. Loulita earned $44,000 for the victory, boosting her lifetime earnings to $93,609. She paid $2.20 to win THE $80,000 INCREDIBLE TILLIE CHAMPIONSHIP The Incredible Tillie Championship, for ICF 2-year-old filly pacers, provided one of the few surprises on The Night of Champions. Bootsy Bombay, though not a real "surprise" did go off as the third choice in the wagering. Despite starting from post 10, Bootsy Bombay went right for the lead, relinquished it on the backstretch but never dropped further back than second. She reclaimed the lead late to win by three quarters. Favored Scorecard Dandy got second while it was another length and a quarter back to Princess Mooss. Owned by James Greer, trained by Nick Prather and driven by Travis Seekman, Bootsy Bombay, bred by Fair Meadow Farm, generated a new lifetime best 1:56.2 after fractions of :29.3, :58.3 and 1:27.2. She paid $12.40 to win. For the victory, the second of her young career, she earned $40,000. Her earnings now stand at $60,403. THE $67,000 PLESAC CHAMPIONSHIP Owner and breeder Flacco Family Farms LLC and trainer Steve Searle wasted little time finding themselves back in the winner's circle as two races after Loutlita scored for them, it was Lousraptor pulling off the upset in the Plesac for ICF aged trotters. Driven by Juan Franco, Lousraptor sat mid-pack early as favored Annas Lucky Star carved out the fractions. Rallying through the stretch, Lousraptor blew by the competition winning by nearly three lengths. Searle trained longshot Louscardamon closed to finish second at 25-1 while 36-1 Cruzen Cassi came on late to finish third. After chasing fractions of :27.3, :57.1, and 1:26.2, Lousraptor won in 1:54.3. The four-year-old gelding earned $33,500 for his victory. He paid $7.40 to win. THE $98,000 BEULAH DYGERT MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP Another race with another slight upset as 7-2 third choice El oh Govner was able to score in the Beulah Dygert Memorial trot for ICF three-year-old fillies. With Marcus Miller in town to drive, El Oh Govner rated off the pace which was set by 3-5 favorite Lous Abigail. Tipping out in the turn, El Oh Govner was able to sustain her rally, winning by a length and a quarter. 51-1 longshot Celone Hall got up for second while Bee See was game in finishing third. Owned by Donald and Sharri Huddleston, bred by Elmer Kaufman and trained by Mike Rogers, El Oh Govner chased fractions of :29.1, :58.2, and 1:28.0 before winning in 1:57.4. He earned $49,000 for his win and paid $9.60. Marcus Miller, El Oh Govner, "Mike (Rogers) told me that she was going to be really good tonight if I could just work out a clean trip and have a lane in the stretch and he was spot on. I wanted to get away somewhat close and just give her a rattle. It worked out just the way I was hoping. As soon as we straightened out, she stepped off on her own and I was pretty confident, she did the rest." THE $109,000 ERWIN F. DYGERT MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP Leading driver Casey Leonard was back in the winner's circle for his third time on the Night of Champions card as he guided Fox Valley Quest to a wire to wire victory in the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial trot for ICF three-year-old males. Leaving for the lead as the 3-2 second choice, Fox Valley Quest led every step, winning by a length and a half over 4-5 favorite Crooked Creek. On Higher Ground closed to finish third. Bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds, owned by Carl Lacy and Benita Simmons and trained by Tom Simmons, Fox Valley Quest won with fractions of :29.2, :58.2, 1:26.4 and 1:55.0. He earned $54,500 for his victory and paid $5.00 to win. THE $118,000 KADABRA CHAMPIONSHIP Making just four lifetime starts and winning for the first time in his career the week prior, Fistfullofdollars impressed in his Kadabra win, for ICF male juvenile trotters. Trained by the meet's leading trainer Mike Brink, who won 48 races, Fistfullofdollars sat behind the pace which was set by longshots Loyz Say When and Mystical Murray. He cruised by in the stretch to win by three and a half lengths. Kyle Wilfong, who finished second in the driver standings with 120 wins on the meet, guided Fistfullofdollars to the winning score. Mystical Murray finished second at 25-1 while 13-1 shot Loyz Say When held third. Fistfullofdollars was bred by Flacco Family Farms and is owned in partnership by Mike Brink, Darin Tournear, Jeffrey Clauson, and Mark Brown. He earned $59,000 for his victory. After chasing fractions of :30.1, 1:00.4, and 1:31.4, Fistfullofdollars won in 2:01.3. He paid $6.40 to win. Trainer Mike Brink on Fistfullofdollars, "He had an injury early, it happened in his stall, and we kind of had to wait on him. He was a nice horse before that happened. It was a freak accident, but we just had to wait on him. I wasn't even sure if we could make it. The horse has a lot of talent and he's smart. I told Kyle last week to just tighten him up, get a better feel of him and make him trot a little faster. He did and it worked out fine." When asked about how he handled the break due to the pandemic with a large stable, "It has been confusing. We had things ready to go when we shut down and had to back everything back down. We had to back the babies back down. And we didn't really know when we were going to get started back up again. Because of the help, the blacksmith and everybody's patience, we waited until the time was right, started back up and it's been working out." THE $71,000 INCREDIBLE FINALE CHAMPIONSHIP Driver Marcus Miller made his trip to Chicago more than worthwhile, grabbing his second win on the card, this time with Erv Miller trained Well Basically. The 4-5 favorite in the Incredible Finale for ICF two-year-old male pacers, Well Basically went right to the top and never looked back, winning by two and a quarter lengths. Frontier Charley rallied from his outside draw to finish second while Partyatmosasplace was third. Bred in partnership by William Hook and Chicago Ag High School and owned by Anthony Lombardi and Engel Stable of IL LLC, Well Basically won through fractions of :29.2, :59.4, 1:29.0 and 1:56.1. He earned $35,500 for the score. He paid $3.80 to win. THE $86,000 ROBERT F CAREY JR. MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP The heaviest favorite of the night didn't disappoint as 1-9 shot He'zzz A Wise Sky won on Night of Champions for the second straight year, taking the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial for ICF three-year-old male pacers. Driven once again by Robert Smolin, He'zzz A Wise Sky immediately cleared the lead and won easily by three and a quarter lengths. Western Perch was a game second, chasing the entire way, while Ryans Ambassador closed to finish third. Owned by Triple Zzz Stable and bred in partnership by trainer Don Filomeno along with Joann Filomeno, He'zzz A Wise Sky earned $43,000 for the win. He set fractions of :28.2, :57,1, and 1:24.4 while winning in 1:51.3. He paid $2.20 to win. THE $108,000 PLUM PEACHY CHAMPIONSHIP The meet's leading winner of races with eight victories from nine starts for $121,880 on the meet was Fox Valley Exploit for owners David Brigham and Kyle Husted. Trained and driven by Husted, Fox Valley Exploit had to work in the Plum Peachy for three-year-old filly pacers after drawing post nine. Confidently handled by Husted, the even money favorite was kept in the clear, opening up into the lane and winning by a comfortable two and three quarters lengths. Harper raced well to finish second while 111-1 shot Castielle held third. Bred by Fox Valley Standardbreds, Fox Valley Exploit chased early fractions of :28.1 and :57.0 before taking over and passing three quarters in 1:25.0 before crossing the wire in 1:53.2. She earned $54,000 for her victory and paid $4.00 to win. THE $68,000 TONY MAURELLO MEMORIAL CHAMPIONSHIP The final race on the Night of Champions card saw a strong performance as breeder Fox Valley Standardbreds capped a fine night as Allbeastnobeauty scored in the Maurello for aged female pacers. Driven and trained by Todd Warren, Allbeastnobeauty settled behind a contested early pace before closing swiftly in the stretch to win by two lengths. Lilly Von Shtupp stalked the pace and held second, followed by last year's Maurello winner Skeeter Machine, who was a game third. Owned by Brookside Stables and Keith Ravis, Allbeastnobeauty chased fractions of :28.0, :55.2, and 1:24.2 before winning 1:51.2. She earned $34,000 for her victory. She paid $3.20 to win. Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago's Hometown Track, returned for live harness racing on Saturday, February 15 and raced through Sunday, September 20. Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 2 through December 27. For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700. by Jim Miller, for Hawthorne Race Course

Stickney, IL - The best in the state of Illinois will be on the track Saturday as 11 stakes races will be contested for Night of Champions at Hawthorne Race Course. Although temps are expected to be cool, conditions look to be dry on Saturday as many divisional honors are on the line. Last week sports wagering kicked off with the partnership between PointsBet and Hawthorne Race Course. While online sports wagering has begun, the on-site sportsbook is expected to open very soon. To celebrate, PointsBet has sponsored an extra $20,000 in purse money for each of the three finals for older horses. "Horse racing and sports betting really go hand-in-hand," stated Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA. "Our sponsorship will add purse money that not only supports Illinois horsemen but showcases our partnership with Hawthorne and engages new fans who already enjoyed wagering on live sports, whether that's a race or a football game." Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association Executive Director Tony Somone added, "I think Hawthorne's choice to partner with PointsBet for sports betting in Illinois demonstrates the track's continued commitment to racing and the hard-working horsemen of Illinois. Horse racing is the original sports betting after all, and this sponsorship adds even more excitement to the competition on the track." Race 2 - $68,000 PointsBet & Club Hawthorne Robert S. Molaro Memorial Championship With the great partnership between PointsBet and Hawthorne, an additional $20,000 in purse money has been added to the Robert S. Molaro Memorial. The Molaro Memorial is for three-year-old and up pacers and drew a full field, led by past Illinois Champion Fox Valley Gemini. Drawing post eight, Fox Valley Gemini has won 38 of 54 lifetime starts for over $450k in earnings for owner Jim Ballinger and trainer Terry Leonard. Driven by the meet's leading driver Casey Leonard, Gemini has won eight times on the year, hitting the board in all 12 of his starts. Fox Valley Gemini is the 6-5 morning line favorite. Second choice in the Molaro Memorial at 9-2 is Salvatore from the barn of Perry Smith. Claimed just two starts back, Salvatore has been very good on the year as well, winning five times from 15 starts and finishing in the top three in 11 of those races. Travis Seekman drives Salvatore who drew post three. Last week's Molaro elimination winner drew the rail as Al's Hammered starts for owner/trainer/driver Robert Smolin. Lightly raced with only seven starts on the year, Al's Hammered posted a year's best mark for himself, winning in 1:52.2 last week. Race 3 - $88,000 Fox Valley Flan Championship Two-year-old filly trotters follow in the Fox Valley Flan as trainer Steve Searle looks to dominate the race. Searle has four horses in the final, drawing post positions two through five. Leading the way at 4-5 for Searle is Loulita for owners Flacco Family Farms LLC and Dr. Patrick Graham. After getting off to a bit of a slow start on the year, Loulita has rattled off five straight wins, taking the final leg of this series last weekend in a new lifetime mark of 2:01. Casey Leonard gets the call as Loulita drew post four. Right next to Loulita, drawing post five, is the Searle entrant poised to upset in Lous Voodoo Woman. Owned by Steven Renard, Lous Voodoo Woman has made more starts by a large margin than any other in the field, starting 19 times on the year. A winner of seven of those starts, Lous Voodoo Woman has speed has driver Kyle Wilfong will look to try to steal the race on the front end with her. Race 4 - $80,000 Incredible Tillie Championship Two-year-old filly pacers contest the Incredible Tillie in one of the night's more wide-open finals. The 8-5 morning line favorite is Scorecard Dandy for owners Green Acres LLC and Mike Klimas for trainer Gregory Kain. Driven by Juan Franco and drawing post four, Scorecard Dandy has won three of seven starts on the year. Her most recent race was her best, as she took the final leg of this series last week, rallying to win in 1:55.3. Right next to Scorecard Dandy in post three is 3-1 second-choice Princess Mooss. Although only posting one win on the year for owner Alan Beals and trainer Gary Rath, Princess Mooss has finished in the top three in eight of nine starts, including each of her last four races. Kyle Wilfong gets the drive for Princess Mooss. Possibly overlooked in the Trackmaster morning line at 8-1, Connie On the Go draws the rail for owners Ronald Phillips and John Carver and trainer Jamaica Patton. Connie On the Go opened the season strong, winning five of her first six starts. A pair of tiring trips leading into the final may be the reason for the inflated line, but a recent qualifier where she finished strongly could put her into the mix for this final. Race 5 - $67,000 PointsBet & Club Hawthorne Plesac Championship Three-year-old and up trotters follow in the Plesac Championship, another stakes final receiving a $20,000 purse boost from PointsBet. The girls will look to crash the boy's party as talented six-year-old mare Annas Lucky Star is the 7-5 favorite for owner Danny Graham and trainer Nelson Willis. The track record holder for aged mare trotter, Annas Lucky Star has won five of 11 starts on the year. She set the track record in a win against open trotters on August 8, winning in 1:53.3 and then equaled that mark two weeks later. Driven by Kyle Wilfong, Annas Lucky Star is looking for her 40th career victory in start number 73. The competition for Annas Lucky Star could come from a pair of Steve Searle trained trotters in Lousraptor and Louzotic. Both owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC, Lousraptor draws post two while Louzotic drew outside post nine in the field. Lousraptor has had a fine year, winning five of 18 races while finishing in the top three 13 times. He upset Annas Lucky Star two weeks ago as Juan Franco gets the call on the 4-1 second choice. Talented mare Louztoic will be driven by Kyle Husted as she has finished first or second in nine of 15 races this year. An 11-time winner in 2019, Louzotic rallied in last week's Plesac prep, nabbing Annas Lucky Star on the wire for the upset win. Louzotic is 10-1 in the morning line. Race 6 - $98,000 Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship Three-year-old filly trotters follow in the Beulah Dygert Memorial as trainer Steve Searle will look to strike once again. This race Searle sends out a pair in Lous Abigail and Bee See. Lous Abigail is the 6-5 morning line choice for owner Flacco Family Farms LLC as she has rattled off five consecutive victories coming into this final. She posted a season best mark of 1:57.3 while winning two starts back and cruised to a nearly ten-length score in her division of the final leg of this series last weekend. Casey Leonard returns in the bike with Lous Abigail. Owned in partnership by Baldes, Searle, Paloma, and Paloma, Bee See draws post two and is 10-1 in the morning line. Driven by Kyle Husted, Bee See was a five time winner from ten starts last season and has found the board in half of her ten races in 2020. She was beaten only a head in a game effort behind Lous Abigail three starts back. Second choice at 5-2 and drawing the inside is Fox Valley Extacy. Owned in partnership by Miller, Hochsprung, Hochsprung, and Falzone, Fox Valley Extacy has won half of her ten starts this year, including a game front-end score last out. Travis Seekman gets the drive once again. Race 7 - $109,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Championship The second richest final on the card goes for three-year-old male trotters as a talented bunch lines up. Drawing post six is the 3-2 favorite Fox Valley Quest for owners Carl Lacy and Benita Simmons. Trained by Tom Simmons Fox Valley Quest has been very good this year, finishing in the top three in all 11 starts, including six victories. He looked strong in his most recent start, taking the final let of the Dygert by four lengths while leading from start to finish. Another having a fantastic year is 5-2 second choice Crooked Creek for owner Ed Teefey and trainer Mike Brink. Drawing the rail and to be driven by Todd Warren, Crooked Creek has won eight of 11 starts on the year, including a six-length win in his division of the Dygert last week. Crooked Creek also got the best of Fox Valley Quest at the end of August, holding him off for a length-and-a-quarter score. Crooked Creek isn't Brink's only shot as he also sends out On Higher Ground whom he owns in partnership with All-Wright Racing LLC. On Higher Ground has hit the board in 10 of 11 this year, including a win over both Fox Valley Quest and Crooked Creek on August 21. Kyle Wilfong gets the drive once again with On Higher Ground. Race 8 - $118,000 Kadabra Championship The evening's richest race goes for two-year-old male trotters in a completely wide-open Kadabra final. With no horse in the full field of ten with over three lifetime victories, any could win this event. The 2-1 morning line favorite drew post four as Lousrolando starts for owners David Brigham and Kyle Husted as Husted trains and drives. Lousrolando is the "now" horse though as he enters this final off a pair of solid victories. Last week he controlled things on the front end, winning the final leg of the Kadabra by six-and-a-quarter lengths. The lightly raced Fistfullofdollars poses a threat for owners Brink, Toumer, Clauson, and Brown and trainer Mike Brink. Making only four lifetime starts, he has found the board in each race, winning his most recent division of the Kadabra in a game victory. Kyle Wilfong drives as Fistfullofdollars will likely have to look to rate and rally from post eight. Race 9 - $71,000 Incredible Finale Championship Two-year-old male pacers line up in the Incredible Finale as the 8-5 favorite Frontier Charley will have to work hard to win from the far outside. Drawing post nine, Frontier Charley is driven by Todd Warren for trainer Jim Eaton. A winner of four of seven starts on the year, he rides a two race streak into this final, including a late closing score last out. Well Basically races for owner Engel Stable Of IL LLC and trainer Erv Miller. He put together a string of three straight wins early in August before being caught on the wire by Frontier Charley in his last. Marcus Miller was behind him for the last of his streak of three wins and drives again on Saturday. Ideal Big Guy gets the rail for owners Dandy Farms Racing, trainer Terry Leonard, Ob Stables and Peter Kouchis as the 7-2 third choice. Although entering this final with only one win lifetime, he has found the board in four of his last five starts. His early speed will benefit him in this final from the inside. Race 10 - $86,000 Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial Championship Three-year-old male pacers are featured in the Carey Memorial as He'zzz A Wise Sky is the 3-2 morning line choice. Owned by Triple Zzz Stable and trained by Don Filomeno, He'zzz A Wise Sky won on Night of Champions last year and has continued his winning ways. Finishing first or second in ten of 11 races this year, he has rattled off three straight wins, including a dominating effort in last week's prep. Regular driver Robert Smolin returns in the bike. Western Perch was the last horse to get the best of He'zzz A Wise Sky, pulling off the upset against him on August 14. Owned in partnership by Bowen, Bowen, and Markert, the Nicole Agosti trainee drew post five. A three-time winner on the year, Western Perch is driven in the final by Kyle Wilfong. Race 11 - $108,000 Plum Peachy Championship A good field of three-year-old filly pacers line up with multiple horses in with a chance. Although listed as the 3-1 second choice in the Trackmaster morning line, Fox Valley Exploit will go off the favorite for owners David Brigham and Kyle Husted. Husted trains and drives the winner of seven of eight on the year, including a speedy win in 1:53 in the second leg of this series. She will have to overcome her post nine draw but her tactical speed allows her to show speed or rate and rally. Listed at 2-1 but the likely second choice at off time is Sign Her Up. Getting a favorable inside draw for owners Rb Roper and Fabian Johnson, Sign Her Up has won four times from 14 starts on the year and hit the board in nine of those 14 races. She is the only horse in the field to defeat Fox Valley Exploit this summer, doing so on August 22. Juan Franco drives for trainer Charles Arthur. Harper has also been very good in 2020 as she starts for owner Peter Karras and trainer Rick Schrock. An eight-time winner from 14 starts, Harper went unraced as a two-year-old but has only missed the board twice this year. Kyle Wilfong drives as Harper comes off a second-place performance behind Fox Valley Exploit last time out. Race 12 - $68,000 PointsBet & Club Hawthorne Tony Maurello Memorial Championship The same as last season, aged female pacers round out the championship evening. Last year's reigning champ Skeeter Machine returns to try to defend her title for owners Francis and James Greer and trainer Nicole Agosti. After winning five times last year, Skeeter Machine has posted five wins once again in 2020. She's the 9-2 third choice in the morning line as Kyle Wilfong drives. The deserving favorite at 9-5 is Allbeastnobeauty for driver and trainer Todd Warren. A winner of nine of 21 starts on the year for owners Brookside Stables and Keith Ravis, she enters this final on a four race win streak. She won gamely in last week's elimination as she looks for her 33rd lifetime win. 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. by Jim Miller, for Hawthorne Race Course

STICKNEY, IL – In Saturday’s ninth race at Hawthorne, harness racing driver Todd Warren drove Tappin Outamessage to career victory number 5,000.    The 55-year-old Warren began his driving career in 1981.    Since then, Warren has had 21 years winning over 100 races.   Within that period Warren has surpassed 200 wins 8 times and 300 victories three times.    Warren’s best season came in 2010 with 344 wins.    Additionally, Warren just surpassed $26 million in career driving earnings this weekend.    As a trainer, Warren is approaching 1,000 victories as he has trained 962 winners for over $3.2 million in earnings.   Todd Warren and Tappin Outamessage     Jim Miller  

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

STICKNEY, IL - With two months left in the summer harness racing season at Hawthorne Race Course, the Night of Champions legs rolled on as points leaders looked to extend their leads while others looked to break into the top ten. Friday night featured a pair of divisions of leg three of the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial. The Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial is for Illinois-bred three-year-old male pacers. The first division featured a heavy favorite as 2019 two-year-old champ He'zzz A Wise Sky was sent away as the 1-9 choice in the field of five. Despite settling at the back of the pack early on, the favorite didn't disappoint as Bobby Smolin confidently handled him, closing in :27.3 to win by a length-and-a-half. 38-1 longshot Western Perch finished second while Illini Force was third. The Don Filomeno trained He'zzz A Wise Sky covered the mile over a fast track in 1:53.0.   The second division of the Carey was also a field of five as a pair of scratches left Ryans Ambassador and Rg's Tracer co-favored. In a race contested very similarly to the first division, Kim Roth trained Bagman settled at the back of the field early and rallied for the victory. Driven by Todd Warren, Bagman closed in :27.2 to win by two-lengths in 1:54.4. Ryans Ambassador was second while Rg's Tracer finished third. On Saturday night a pair of divisions of the Plum Peachy, for Illinois-bred three-year-old filly pacers took place. In the first division the favorite didn't disappoint. Kyle Husted trained Fox Valley Exploit got the job done as the 2-5 favorite, settling back early and rallying for driver Casey Leonard to win in 1:53.0. Sign Her Up closed to finish second while Sleazy Gal was third. The second division of the Plum Peachy was a runaway as the Leroy Hunt trained Double Parked made the top early and drew off in the lane, winning by six lengths for driver Travis Seekman. Dancin Eyes finished second while Fox Valley Nia closed to finish third. Double Parked won in 1:54.4. State-bred three-year-old trotters were the focus on Sunday as the boys contested a pair of divisions of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial while the girls battled in the Beulah Dygert Memorial. The first division of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial saw an impressive effort as Crooked Creek was sent away as the heavy favorite and rolled to a clear six-length score for owner Ed Teefey, trainer Mike Brink, and driver Mike Oosting. Lous Paisano was second while Desert Sheik finished third. Crooked Creek won in 1:56.2. The skies opened the following race as rain poured down upon a now sloppy surface for the first division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial. While favored Lous Abigail carved out the early fractions, it was driver Brandon Bates and Fox Valley Extacy who rallied for the three-length score. The win was career victory number 1,000 for Bates as a driver as Fox Valley Extacy won in 1:59.0 for trainer Hector Herrera. Lous Abigail held second while Bee See finished third.   The second division of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial also went to the favorite. This time it was the Tom Simmons trained Fox Valley Quest. Taking the early lead for driver Casey Leonard and drawing clear in the lane, Fox Valley Quest stopped the timer in 1:59.4. On Higher Ground chased to finished second while Mt Red Thunder closed late to finish third. The second division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial was wide open. While favored Tropical Rosie tired in the lane, it was second choice Fox Valley Lush who took over in the stretch and won for driver Todd Warren and trainer Jim Eaton. Lous Cover Girl was second while Lous Flashy Dancer finished third. Fox Valley Lush went 2:02.1 over the sloppy track. 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. by Jim Miller, for Hawthorne Race Course

STICKNEY, IL - A trio of 13 race cards highlighted a warm and adventurous weekend at Hawthorne Race Course. Leading the way throughout the weekend was the father-son pair of Todd and Ridge Warren. Friday night was Ridge Warren night at Hawthorne as he made his presence known early in the evening. Ridge kicked off his hot night winning the first leg of the early pick 4 sequence with 5-1 shot Impressive Art (1:53.2) for trainer Dane May. While Ridge started the pick 4 with a win, he completed a sweep of the entire sequence. In race 4, the second leg of the early pick 4, Warren guided home Mckee Creek (1:53.3) to a late rallying victory for trainer Nick Prather. He followed that with winning behind He Gone Jack (1:52.1) for the second straight week for trainer Mike Brink. Ridge closed the sequence with the upset of the night as Terry Leonard trained Ponda's Prospect (1:51.0) upset Terry Leonard trained Illinois Champ Fox Valley Gemini, winning the open pace by a neck. Ridge rounded out his night taking the 12th race behind Better Watch Out (1:52.2) for trainer Merv Chupp, capping a five-win evening. While Ridge Warren had the big night, his father Todd won the biggest race on the Friday card. Leg two action of the $17,500 Incredible Finale, for Illinois-bred two-year-old male pacers was the featured event. An early break by favored Well Basically opened the door for Todd Warren to give a perfect trip to Frontier Charley as the Jim Eaton trained youngster won by a head in 1:57.1. Mekkas Big Guy was a game second while Partyatmosasplace finished third. Todd would make it a Friday double, taking the nightcap with Artofficial Flavor (1:54.2) for trainer Angela Coleman.   The tables turned on Saturday night as this time it was Todd Warren stringing together victories on the card. Trying to repeat the feat of Ridge's Friday night early pick 4 sweep, Todd nearly did just that. In the first leg of the Saturday sequence, Todd got things started, pulling off the big upset with 29-1 shot Helen's Girl (1:54.3) for trainer William Crone. In the following race it was Todd Warren again in the winner's circle, this time with Crooked Creek (1:55.4) for trainer Mike Brink. The third leg of the pick 4 also went to Todd Warren as he drove Tappin Outamessage (1:52.2) to a clear win for trainer Harold Herrera. Todd almost got the sweep of the sequence but Fox Valley Torrid came up short, finishing third in race 6 as favored Lilly Von Shtupp (1:53.2) wasn't to be denied. With Todd Warren winning races early, it meant it was Ridge Warren's turn to take the spotlight for the stakes event. Leg two of the $17,500 Incredible Tillie for Illinois-bred two-year-old filly pacers followed. Heavily favored was Ridge Warren driven Connie On The Go and she didn't disappoint, controlling the pace for the majority of the race, winning clearly for trainer Jamaica Patton in 1:58.0. Princess Mooss rallied to finish second while longshot Kandi's Fortune held third.   Ridge was able to grab his second win on the card, taking race 12 with Hello Art (1:55.0) for trainer Mike Brink. Saturday also saw a driving triple from Casey Leonard, winning the second with Meetmeatthefinish (1:54.1), sixth race behind Lilly Von Shtupp (1:53.2), and 11th with Louscardamon (1:58.4). Kyle Wilfong had a pair of wins on the card, guiding home favorites Stella Kemp (1:58.4) and Ok Jewel (1:54.4) to wins in the ninth and tenth races. An eventful Sunday evening at Hawthorne wasn't dominated nearly as much by the Warren family, although the father-son duo were the race five exacta as Todd drove Shelly On My Mind (1:53.2) to a win over Ridge and Pretty Iris. Juvenile trotters were the focus on the card with a pair of divisions of the $17,500 Fox Valley Flan for two-year-old filly trotters and two divisions of the $17,500 Kadabra for two-year-old male trotters. The first division of the Fox Valley Flan was dominated by the favorite as Bbr Lady grabbed the early lead for driver-trainer Freddie Patton, Jr. and never looked back, winning easily in 2:01.4. Lucky Valerie was a good second while Lou Lou Lamour recovered from a break to finish third. The second division of the Fox Valley Flan saw a minor upset as Kyle Wilfong guided Lous Voodoo Woman (2:01.2) to the score over favored Myonly Sin. Bc's Rose finished third. Lous Voodoo Woman was trained by Steve Searle. In the first leg of the Kadabra we saw an upset as well as Rndmnunpredictable uncorked a late rally to catch favored Sudden Approach on the wire, winning in 2:01.2 for driver Mike Oosting and trainer Steve Searle. I'mnotalocaldude finished third. The second leg of the Kadabra had the two favorites rallying late as Coco D'Lascito (2:03.4) rolled to the win for Casey Leonard and trainer Jenna Lubeck. Slight favorite Shady Maple Spirit was good enough to finish second while Lousrolando was third. The tenth race Sunday had a scary moment as Captain Classic stepped on a front hobble at the top of the stretch, causing a chain reaction spill that included Fox Valley Jude and Master Ken. In the spill, drivers Kyle Husted, Tyler Shehan, and Casey Leonard were all unseated. Fortunately all three horses escaped injury and Shehan and Leonard were able to walk away from the incident. Husted was transported to the hospital but reports that he was dealing with knee soreness from a prior injury and hopes for a quick return to the bike. 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. by Jim Miller, for Hathorne Race Course

STICKNEY, IL - As the return to live harness racing at Hawthorne surpassed one month after a lengthy break for the pandemic, the babies on the grounds were featured as they start to round into form. The weather was great for the three day racing weekend as handle continued to surge at Hawthorne Race Course. The 11 race Friday card at Hawthorne belonged to driver Todd Warren. Warren opened the night winning with Chasing Money (1:54.2) for trainer Ronnie Roberts. Two races later it was a Warren driven upset as 19-1 shot Impressive Cowboy (1:54.0) caught favored Ok Galahad for trainer Eugene Gilerman. In the night's featured event, the $42,950 Cardinal for two-year-old colt and gelding pacers, Warren pulled off another upset. This time he took trainer Jim Eaton's Frontier Charley (1:57.0) from second-to-last into the winner's circle with a late closing win at 10-1 odds. 40-1 shot Mekkas Big Guy rallied for second over favored Well Basically.   In the very next race, Warren was back in the winner's circle for his fourth time on the card as Mighty Tony Mac (1:55.0) just got up for the victory for trainer Tim Roach. Warren made it a five-bagger when he drove Better Watch Out (1:52.1) to a win in the nightcap for trainer Merv Chupp. While Todd Warren had five winners on Friday night, the spotlight also shone on his son Ridge. Ridge Warren grabbed a pair of victories as he confidently handled Toxic Rock (1:52.3) for the win in race five. He was back with his second victory on the card with a very smart drive behind 10-1 shot He Gone Jack (1:52.1), weaving his way through traffic to win race 10. Ridge Warren's solid Friday evening continued onward to Saturday as he guided home a pair of winners on back to back nights. Ridge drove Rockyroad Aldo (1:58.0) to a 13-1 upset score in the opener for trainer Kim Roth. He was also in the bike for the featured $43,100 Violet for two-year-old filly pacers behind favored Connie On The Go. The talented youngster didn't disappoint as she rallied in the lane to win by a neck in 1:58.2 for trainer Jamaica Patton. Princess Mooss held second while Clearly The Bomb was a game third.   Casey Leonard grabbed a three-bagger on Saturday as well. He scored with Fox Valley Sierra (1:55.4) in race two for Terry Leonard. The driver-trainer duo teamed up again to score in the open trot as Call For Justice (1:54.4) closed with a late rush for the win. Leonard closed out the card winning the finale for trainer Nelson Willis with Rockinsweetvictory (1:53.1). On Sunday evening the inexperience showed for some of the juvenile trotters as upsets occurred throughout the night. The first of the evening's featured events was the $22,775 Cardinal for male juvenile trotters. After winning earlier in the night with Valar Morghulis (1:53.4) in race two, driver Mike Oosting grabbed his second win on the card as he kept Shady Maple Spirit (2:04.3) on stride to win for trainer Dennis Gardner at odds of nearly 6-1. The upset came after 1-9 shot Coco D'Lascito broke multiple times in the race and was placed fifth after finishing fourth while breaking through the wire. The following race was the $43,000 Violet for female juvenile trotters and again Oosting and his drive were the beneficiaries of another costly break. This time the break came from 4-5 favorite Loulita who never recovered. Oosting took advantage, giving Myonly Sin (2:03.1) a perfect trip in victory for trainer Erv Miller. Oosting would go on to cap his four win night as he guided Sport Miss Dune (1:57.0) to the win in race eight. The second division of the $22,775 Cardinal also saw another costly break to a favorite as 3-5 shot Bobalou broke early and never recovered. This time it was Shady Maple Valor (2:03.4) who made the top and never looked back for driver Freddie Patton, Jr. and trainer Roshun Trigg. 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. by Jim Miller, for Hawthorne Race Course

STICKNEY, IL - A busy return to live racing continued at Hawthorne Race Course as races continued to fill very well. With claiming series coming to their conclusion and Night of Champions action moving forward, there was an abundance of competitive racing for the top horses on the grounds. Over the three day weekend, between added non-wagering events and live racing cards, 45 races were conducted around the Hawthorne oval. The 15 race Friday card had its share of features with two divisions of leg two of the Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial, leg one action in the Incredible Finale, as well as a fine field of open pacers. The Robert F. Carey, Jr. Memorial for Illinois-bred three-year-old male pacers was raced in two divisions over a sloppy racetrack. The first division was won impressively by Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc.'s Fox Valley Ren. Sent off as the heavy 1-9 choice, Fox Valley Ren was in full control for driver Kyle Wilfong, extending his margin at each call. He would go on to win by eight-and-a-quarter lengths in 1:54.1 for trainer Nelson Willis. Illini Force finished second while Bagman was third. The second division of the Carey was also won by the heavy choice. This time it was Triple Zzz Stable's He'zzz A Wise Sky, rolling home for Robert Smolin. Settling early, He'zzz A Wise Sky took over in the stretch and drew clear through the wire in 1:53.4 for trainer Don Filomeno. Rg's Tracer was second while Ryans Ambassador finished third. A field of seven two-year-old Illinois-bred male pacers lined up in leg one of the Incredible Finale. Owned and bred by Flacco Family Farms LLC, Ryans Loan Shark controlled the pace from the start for driver Cordarius Stewart, holding sway to win in 2:01.2. Trained by Roshun Trigg, Ryans Loan Shark pulled off the slight upset as the third choice in the race. Partyatmosasplace was second while Prince of Style finished third. Perennial Illinois-bred champ Fox Valley Gemini capped the night as he returned in fine fashion in the night's open pace. Settling at the back of the pack early, driver Casey Leonard tipped out Fox Valley Gemini in the lane as he rolled home to a win in 1:53.3. Trained by Terry Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini is owned by Jim Ballinger. With clear skies returning on Saturday, more stakes legs continued. Before the stakes legs were contested, open trotters took to the track early in the evening. Chupp Racing Stable Inc.'s Pine Dream was in full control, leading from start to finish while winning in 1:55.0. Todd Warren drove for trainer Merv Chupp. A pair of divisions of leg two of the Plum Peachy followed. The Plum Peachy is for Illinois-bred three-year-old filly pacers. The first division had a heavy favorite as 1-9 shot Sleazy Gal narrowly held off longshot Amazon Princess to win by a head in 1:56.3. Owned by Engel Stable of IL LLC and trained by Erv Miller, Sleazy Gal was driven by Casey Leonard. The second division of the Plum Peachy had another heavy favorite. This time it was Fox Valley Exploit for owners David Brigham and trainer Kyle Husted. With Husted in the bike, Fox Valley Exploit moved early to the lead and held off the late rally of Sign Her Up to win by a length-and-a-half in 1:54.2. Illinois-bred two-year-old filly pacers made their Hawthorne debuts in leg one of the Incredible Tillie. Driver Ridge Warren guided Connie On The Go to a late closing victory by a head over Princess Mooss in 1:59.3. Clearly the Bomb was a game third. Connie On The Go is owned by Ronald Phillips and John Carver and trained by Jamaica Patton. Sunday kicked off with three non-wagering events as Night of Champions legs continued. First off was the first leg of the Fox Valley Flan for Illinois-bred two-year-old filly trotters. Trainer Steve Searle swept the trifecta as Lous Voodoo Woman won for driver Kyle Wilfong in 2:01.3. She was followed by Searle trainees Loulita and Lou Lou Lamour. Lous Voodoo Woman is owned by Steven Renard. The second of the non-wagering events was for three-year-old Illinois-bred filly trotters in the first division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial. It was another Steve Searle trainee who was victorious as Lous Abigail held off Fox Valley Extacy in 2:58.1 for driver Casey Leonard. Lous Abigail is owned by Flacco Family Farms LLC. The final non-wagering event had Illinois-bred two-year-old male trotters taking to the track in leg one action of the Kadabra. Driver Casey Leonard found himself in the winner's circle again, this time with Coco D' Lascito for trainer Jenna Lubeck. In full control from start to finish, Coco D' Lascito won by five lengths in 2:01.4 for owner Samuel Daddono. Shady Maple Spirit was second while Rndmnunpredictable finished third. The Sunday pari-mutuel card had three more Night of Champions events with a pair of divisions of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial as well as the second division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial. Illinois-bred three-year-old male trotters were the focus in the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial. The first division saw the favorites finish one-two as Ed Teefey's Crooked Creek held off On Higher Ground to win in 1:57.0. Crooked Creek was driven by Mike Oosting. Both of the top two finishers were trained by Mike Brink. Lous Paisano would go on to finish third. The second division of the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial went to heavy favorite Fox Valley Quest. Trained by Tom Simmons and driven by Casey Leonard, Fox Valley Quest won by nearly five lengths in 1:58.0 over Desert Sheik and Mr Red Thunder. Fox Valley Quest is owned by Carl Lacy and Benita Simmons. The second division of the Beulah Dygert Memorial was won in fine fashion by Bee See. Owned by Molly Baldes, Steve Searle, Michael and Chris Paloma, Bee See took advantage of a break at the start by favorite Fox Valley Lush as was in control throughout. Driven by Kyle Husted, Bee See won in 1:59.0 for trainer 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. by Jim Miller, for Hawthorne Race Course  

STICKNEY, IL - With the summer harness racing season gearing up, Illinois-breds were the focus as the entry box continued to overflow. Hawthorne saw increases in handle every weekend day, surpassing $1 million in handle both Friday and Saturday and $1.3 million on Sunday. On Friday evening multiple legs of the Club Hawthorne Mini Series continued as driver James Lackey kicked off a driving double winning the opener behind Almost Cut My Hair in 1:52.1. A speedy strip led to solid times throughout the card as Lackey also won the fifth race, guiding On Duty to an easy win in 1:51.2. Driver Cordarius Stewart and trainer Joh Hughes pair up for a Friday double, winning race two with Illuminati Hanover (1:55.1) and race eight with Final Prize (1:56.2). Todd Warren won also won two Friday, driving home the first of trainer Tom Simmons two winners on the night as Mykonos (1:53.0) won the fourth. Warren also won the Friday finale with Dakota Roadster (1:53.1) for trainer Rob Rittof. Simmons second winner of the night came from Yankee Bounty (1:52.0) for driver Juan Franco in race 12. The only driving triple Friday belonged to Casey Leonard. Leonard took the third with Trashytonguetalker (1:52.1), sixth behind Sirodsdalicrickett (1:53.3), and seventh with Native's Best Bet (1:52.3). Trainer Terry Leonard had a double as Over Speeding (1:53.3) joined Trashtonguetalker as his winners on the card. The fastest mile of the night went to 24-1 shot Rock Steady Ron as Clifton Bell gave him a perfect trip for trainer Jamaica Patton, winning race nine in 1:50.2. A 13-race Saturday card spanned nearly six hours as a nearly two hour mid-card weather delay slowed the evening down. Two divisions of the Cardinal for Illinois-bred three-year-old male pacers were contested along with their female counterparts in the Violet. The first division of the Cardinal was won by Rg's Tracer (1:54.1) as Travis Seekman drove home the winner for wife Desirae. The second Cardinal division went to Fox Valley Ren (1:53.0) as he held off a game He'zzz A Wise Sky for driver Kyle Wilfong and trainer Nelson Willis. The Violet came after the weather delay as Fox Valley Exploit (1:55.2) was a clear winner for driver/trainer Kyle Husted. The Violet was one of three Husted victories on the card. Earlier in the evening Husted guided Louzotic (1:58.3) to a win via DQ in the open trot. Husted capped a training double with his third driving win of the night as Fox Valley Hijinx (1:52.3) took the tenth race. Kyle Wilfong had the other driving triple on Saturday, winning race three behind Tropical Fruit (1:55.2) and the nightcap with Meadowbrook Glider in 1:57.1. Sunday's action started early with a pair of non-wagering races as two divisions of the Violet for Illinois-bred three-year filly trotters were contested. The first division was won in a game effort by Bee See (2:01.1) for Kyle Husted and Steve Searle. The second division was an upset as Celone Hall (1:58.0) was able to roll by Lous Abigail for Mike Oosting and trainer Mike Brink. The story of the Sunday card was Oosting's driving as he guided five horses to the winner's circle. After his non-wagering score with Celone Hall, Oosting took the Phil Georgeff series final with Frontier Rollo (1:51.0) for trainer Tom Simmons. He was back two races later with his second win for Mike Brink, this time with Gm Patty Lin (1:57.4) in the Daryl Busse Trot Final. Mike's fourth win on the night was Mike Brink's third training victory, coming in the Cardinal for Illinois-bred three-year-old male trotters as Crooked Creek (1:57.4) rallied for the victory. Oosting's fifth Sunday score was trainer Steve Searle's second as Coming Up (1:54.3) took race 12. Sunday also saw a near track record performance as aged mare Tempus Seelster paced a strong 1:50.3 mile in the filly and mare open for driver Travis Seekman and trainer Rob Rittof. 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

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

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

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 - Following a recent FBI investigation which resulted in the indictments of harness trainers Rick Dane, Jr., Nick Surick, Conor Flynn, and Chris Oaks, Hawthorne Race Course is implementing the following policies regarding any horses formerly trained by these indicted trainers: 1. Horses formerly trained by indicted trainers will not be allowed onto the grounds of Hawthorne Race Course until April 15. 2. Following April 15, should a horse formerly trained by an indicted trainer be transferred to another trainer and wish to come onto the grounds of Hawthorne Race Course, the Racing Secretary and Stewards must be notified by the new trainer and receive approval for the horse to enter the grounds. 3. Any horse previously owned by any indicted trainer, or their relatives, will be subject to approval of the Racing Secretary and Stewards before being allowed onto the grounds of Hawthorne Race Course. 4. Upon approval, these horses must be stabled in the surveillance barn at Hawthorne Race Course for the duration of the meet. Any horse that leaves the grounds of Hawthorne from this barn will not be allowed to return. 5. Horses may be examined by state or association veterinarians at any time during their time on the grounds of Hawthorne Race Course. 6. After April 15, those approved horses will remain on the stewards list for 30 days from their arrival date onto the grounds of Hawthorne. They will be ineligible to race during this period. 7. Following the 30 days on the grounds of Hawthorne, horses must test negative for any foreign substances prior to coming off the Stewards list. Horse will then be required to qualify to race. 8. Any violation of these policies will result in a trainer losing their stalls and ability to race at Hawthorne Race Course in the future. 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. by Jim Miller, for Hawthorne Race Course

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