Although they remain unhappy with their lot, Hawthorne Race Course officials say they will do their best with the 2001 dates allocated by the Illinois Racing Board. The IRB on Tuesday granted Hawthorne a split Thoroughbred meet -- March 1 through April 30 and Oct. 31 through Dec. 31.
That strips the in-town oval of its October schedule and will force the relocation of the Hawthorne Gold Cup. For the second straight year, the board also denied Hawthorne's request for harness dates, despite the track's $2 million investment to prepare for a return of Standardbred racing.
"The schedule we have received is unfortunate," Thomas Carey III, Hawthorne's director of operations, said in a statement released late Thursday. "But we need to focus our energy on the future. This is a radical change to the dates that have been handed out in the past. This poses a significant challenge to our establishment but I relish the opportunity to prove Hawthorne's worth within the ranks of racing in Illinois."
Referring to the Gold Cup, Carey said the track will look for "a suitable spot where this race can be most beneficial to not only Hawthorne, but Thoroughbred racing on a national scene as well."
Just two years ago, while Arlington was dark and Sportsman's was adding auto racing capacity, Hawthorne was the sole Thoroughbred venue in the Chicago area.