Hawthorne Race Course in Illinois registered gains in average daily total handle for its 2008-09 fall/winter meet thanks to increases in out-of-state wagering. On-track and in-state handle on Hawthorne races declined, however.
According to figures released by the track, total handle averaged $2,798,654 per day compared with $2,764,314 in the fall and winter of 2007-08. On-track handle on local races averaged $117,860, down from $139,210, while average daily in-state handle was $285,708, down from $314,880. Average daily out-of-state handle was $2,395,085, up from $2,310,223.
Officials credited an increase in field size with helping total handle increase. According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, Hawthorne averaged 8.70 horses per race at the recent meet compared with 8.48 during the 2007-08 meet.
The 2008-09 meet spanned 72 days, 10 fewer than the 2007-08 meet. Purses averaged $181,187 a day in 2008-09 versus $186,770 for 2007-08, according to TJCIS statistics.
Live racing returns to Hawthorne March 6. The track will celebrate its 100th year of racing.
“We’re tremendously excited for 2009,” Hawthorne president and general manager Tim Carey said in a statement. “It’s no secret that the racing industry as a whole has been suffering a downward trend nationally, but we’ve been steadily adjusting our business model and marketing at Hawthorne, and I really believe we’re on the cusp of a terrific season.”
The spring meet, which runs through April 29, is highlighted by the April 4 Illinois Derby (gr. II). Racing will be held Thursdays through Mondays with first post time of 1:25 p.m. Central time.