The $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II) returns as the marquee race for the Hawthorne fall meet, which begins on Saturday, Oct. 1.
After being run for $250,000 in 2010, the Gold Cup purse returns to the level that it has been run at in previous years. It will be contested on the dirt at 1 1/4 miles on Saturday, Oct. 8.
On Oct. 15 the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIII) presented by TVG will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. The race is listed at $175,000, but expected sponsorship of an additional $25,000 could boost the purse to $200,000.
“The return of the Hawthorne Gold Cup to $500,000 was very important to us and I was pleased that our horsemen recognized the significance of this race as well,” said Hawthorne assistant general manager Jim Miller. “The Gold Cup is the richest dirt race in Illinois and consistently sends horses to the Breeders’ Cup. With the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs this year, Hawthorne is a perfect spot for that final prep for anything from the Dirt Mile to the Marathon to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“In regards to the Hawthorne Derby, I feel very strongly that we will find additional sponsorship for the race to bring the purse to $200,000. TVG has been a great partner of ours and they have given great focus to both the Illinois Derby this past spring and the Hawthorne Derby this fall.”
On Oct. 22, the Illinois Festival of racing will take place as six Illinois restricted races will be run. With the additional funds, Hawthorne and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have given a boost to the Illinois-bred program by increasing the purses of all six stakes on Festival Day from $100,000-added to $125,000-added.