Hawthorne Race Course has hired industry veteran Allan Plever as racing secretary and director of racing operations, the Chicagoland oval announced in a release June 11.
Plever will focus on improving field size, the track's condition book, and stakes schedule.
"While gaming expansion in Illinois faces continued political delays, Hawthorne Race Course is making moves to further strengthen its racing product," the release said. "Though the traditional fall meet at Hawthorne has historically featured full fields, the new racing secretary will focus on a long-range strategy to draw more race-ready horses to 'Chicago's hometown track' with a variety of racing conditions and a fresh look at the track's stake schedule."
Plever began his 35-year racing career in 1977 in upstate New York at Finger Lakes | BloodHorse.com Track Profile">Finger Lakes and has since held numerous director-level positions at race tracks across the nation, including in Illinois as the racing secretary at Sportsman's Park. Most recently, Plever worked as a jockey's agent for Chris Emigh and Francisco Torres, two of the state's leading riders in wins and earnings in 2012.
"Illinois racing continues to face challenges but that doesn't mean we should be waiting for anything," said Tim Carey, president and general manager of Hawthorne. "We are building a management team that is committed to aggressively pursuing the best ideas, and working cooperatively with everyone in our industry so that we are ready for its very exciting future. Allan is going to be a great addition to our team because he understands both our limitations and our ambitions."
"Working as a jock's agent has given me a very fresh perspective on racing, even after 35 years," said Plever. "Hawthorne already has a great reputation with trainers and owners, and is well-positioned for when gaming expansion comes to Illinois. We're on the cusp of that, which means a revival for the breeding industry all across the state, but we need to keep working closely with Illinois horsemen to get us there."
Beginning this summer Plever is expected to mount a full-scale recruiting campaign to attract horsemen to Hawthorne's fall meet, including stables based in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York. His strategy will focus on positioning Hawthorne well within the national racing circuit and writing a variety of races for conditions that fit the often harsh weather of winter and spring racing in Chicago.
"We're going to be successful not just by getting more horses into the races, but by writing races that horsemen want to, and are able to enter," said Plever. "That means open lines of communication and a mutual respect for what everyone needs to do to keep racing alive in Illinois. Hawthorne has always been a leader in that, which is why I'm so excited to join this team."