STICKNEY, IL – With the shift in the dynamic of live racing in Illinois, Hawthorne Race Course will begin their extended spring/summer thoroughbred season on Sunday March 5. Traditionally racing spring and fall thoroughbred meets, the shift to summer live racing will allow horsemen the ability to stay in one location for the majority of the year while offering turf racing for an extended period. In addition to the shift in schedule, Hawthorne Race Course will also offer the lowest takeout in the country on Win-Place-Show wagers.
Following the completion of the 2022 fall thoroughbred season, Hawthorne remained open for training, offering horsemen a location to stay during the winter while keeping horses fit. A mild winter with limited precipitation has allowed for many more horses to keep consistent training patterns in preparation for the start of the spring season. With more horses on the grounds and busy workout tabs, 69 horses have been entered for the nine race Sunday opening day card. During the first three months of the season, Hawthorne will be racing live on Sunday and Thursday with a 2:30 PM post.
“We made the decision to get away from Saturday racing in the spring for multiple reasons,” stated Hawthorne Director Of Racing Jim Miller. “Saturdays are full with so many marquee racing days in the spring across the country that we didn’t feel it was the smartest to compete against those venues. By shifting Saturday racing to Thursday in the spring we will face less competition on the national scene while being able to make Hawthorne a more visible track to the wagering public. Additionally, once FanDuel Racing begins their season downstate, we wanted to give Illinois horsemen as many opportunities to race in the state. By racing on Saturdays during the first three months we would have been in direct competition with each other and that would not have been beneficial to anyone.”
While live thoroughbred racing begins in March, the expanded summer meet will also bring on the potential for more turf racing at Hawthorne. With the spring meets at Hawthorne traditionally allowing only a couple of weeks on the turf and the fall meet producing only six weeks of grass racing, the schedule shift in 2023 will bring about much more turf potential. Turf racing at Hawthorne is expected to commence in May as a full four months of racing on the grass is likely during the summer season. Along with overnight racing, five stakes will be run on the Hawthorne turf this summer, featured by the return of the Hawthorne Derby, Presented by BetMakers on Sunday, June 25.
Many familiar faces have remained at Hawthorne throughout the winter training as past Hawthorne training champions Hugh Robertson, Brittany Vanden Berg and Scott Becker have had strings on the grounds all winter long. Additionally Larry Rivelli, Chris Block, Frank Kirby, Michele Boyce and Armando Hernandez have also left horses as Hawthorne to train this winter. With numerous Hawthorne riding titles under his belt, Chris Emigh will be back in the saddle at Hawthorne this spring along with another Hawthorne champ in Victor Santiago. Veterans Julio Felix, Emmanuel Esquivel and Constantino Roman also return while Sebastian Saez comes to Chicago, looking to make his mark in 2023.
For the player, Hawthorne Race Course is also making a splash on the wagering end in 2023. While low 15% takeout rates are already offered on the popular Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers, Hawthorne Race Course will now be offering the lowest takeout in the country on Win, Place and Show wagers. For the 2023 season, takeout on these wagers has been lowered to 12%.
“When a person is first introduced to wagering on racing, Win, Place and Show are typically the first way someone will play a race,” stated Hawthorne Assistant General Manager John Walsh. “Win, Place and Show remain some of the most popular wagers and typically combine to produce the largest pools on a card. With the added exposure we are expecting Hawthorne to receive in 2023 due to the shift to summer racing, along with our Thursday cards, we want to provide the best value in the country for our customers. We are expecting fuller fields, more turf racing and very competitive racing all summer long. The reduction in WPS takeout puts more into the bettors’ pockets and we believe will also increase the pools to benefit racing for horsemen in the state of Illinois.”