Unseasonably warm temperatures in the Chicago area and field sizes that averaged more than nine horses per race helped boost the numbers during the opening weekend of the National Jockey Club meet at Hawthorne Racecourse.
Wagering totaled $2,085,579 on live racing during Friday's opener, compared with $1.83 million wagered on last year's first Friday. The on-track crowd of 3,792 wagered $293,213 on-site for the card, up from the $189,000 bet for the comparable day in 2003. On Saturday, handle from all sources on the live racing totaled $2,575, up from the $2.1 million from 2003. The crowd of nearly 2,800 wagered $299,002 on-site on Hawthorne's card, up from the $210,000 wagered in 2003.
During March, Hawthorne is operating on a Friday through Monday schedule. Beginning in April, racing will be conducted Friday through Tuesday through the end of the meet, with no racing Easter Sunday, April 11.