As an added attraction on Illinois Derby Day (gr. II) April 8, Hawthorne Race Course will present a pair of ostrich races in which fans in attendance will have a rooting interest.
The races will be orchestrated by Hedrick's Promotions, an entertainment affiliate of Hedrick Exotic Animal Farm, based out of Kansas. The birds will be ridden by Hawthorne's regular Thoroughbred jockeys.
Upon entering the gates, the first 8,000 patrons will receive a game piece with a numbered ostrich. The patron whose bird crosses the wire first in the "Early Bird Stakes" (run between Thoroughbred races three and four) will receive an Illinois Derby commemorate t-shirt.
Between races nine and 10, ostriches will again take to the track. Co-sponsored by Air Jamaica and Corona, the "Big Bird Sweepstakes" will give five lucky fans (drawn at random) a chance to win an excursion to Jamaica or a trip to the 2006 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Each of the chosen fans will wear the number of a corresponding ostrich, and the winner will be given the opportunity to choose between the two co-grand prizes. The fan linked to the second-place Ostrich will receive the second trip.
"Illinois Derby Day continues to grow as a racing and entertainment event," said Hawthorne's director of marketing Joe Scurto. "The Illinois Derby speaks for itself, especially with this year's line up, but we want to continue to expand the entertainment offered between the races. These ostriches are wild, and I think our jockeys are in for the ride of their lives," Scurto said.
The Early Bird Stakes*
Race number--Ostrich, Jockey
1--Queen Lorene, Christian Pilares
2--Walshie, Uriel Lopez
3--Jonesy, Tim Thornton
4--Lou Slips, Denis Rojas
5--Slimmy, Duane Salvino
The Big Bird Sweepstakes*
1--Queen Lorene, Nicolas Meza
2--Walshie, Tommy Molina
3--Jonesy, Miguel Mena
4--Lou Slips, Israel Ocampo
5--Slimmy, Eduardo Perez
* Ostrich names created by Hawthorne marketing staff.