Hawthorne Race Course announced Feb. 22 that overnight purses at the track will increase by $12,000 per day, effective, a hike of approximately 15% that takes effect March 1.
Due to the temporary suspension of advanced deposit wagering in Illinois, Hawthorne and its off-track betting facilities have handled an additional $300,000 in full card handle since its meet began Feb. 15. With the expectation that this trend will continue, the purse increase will be sustained throughout the spring meet ending April 28.
The 15% increase in purses goes into effect just two weeks into the Illinois track's eleven-week spring meet.
"This is in keeping with our ongoing commitment to reinvest in Illinois racing," said Tim Carey, president and general manager of Hawthorne. "We continue to work closely with our horsemen to provide rewarding racing opportunities."
Mike Campbell, Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association president, said, "This is going to make a significant difference for many trainers here at Hawthorne. I think almost everyone involved in Illinois racing understands where the industry is at financially, and this is a great example of how we need to work together so that we can all get to the next phase of Illinois horse racing."
There are more than 1,350 horses stabled at Hawthorne, providing some of the biggest average field sizes in the country.
The highlight of Hawthorne's spring meet will be the 56th running of the Illinois Derby (gr. III), to be held on April 20. The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds received a 50% purse increase prior to the current overnight purse increase, from $500,000 to $750,000. The Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III), a $200,000 event for fillies and mares that are three years old and older, will also be run on April 20, making the day's purses total more than $1 million.