Hawthorne Race Course will waste little time getting to its top races when the fall meet begins Oct. 5.
The Stickney, Illinois oval will open its 62-day meeting with a nine-race card that has attracted 102 entries. First post for Oct. 5 racing will be 2:10 p.m. CDT, the meet’s regular post time.
On Oct. 6 Hawthorne will host the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), a major prep race for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 2-3 at Santa Anita Park. The supporting card for the Gold Cup includes two $100,000 turf events: the Indian Maid Handicap for fillies and mares and the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap for three-year-olds and older.
Hawthorne will conduct racing Wednesday-Sunday through Dec. 30 with a dark day on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22.
Following opening weekend, Hawthorne will offer stakes races every weekend in October, splitting up the Illinois Festival of racing to better prepare Illinois horses. The other graded stakes at the meeting is the $200,000 Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) on October 13th, a 1 1/8-mile turf event for 3-year-olds. Track officials expect to conduct turf racing well into November.
Assistant General Manager Jim Miller said horsemen have filled the backstretch barns and track officials expect a strong meet, noting a 27.5% increase in total wagering at the spring meeting.
"We are very excited for this fall meet and we expect to continue the momentum we started with such a strong spring meet," Miller said. "The horsemen are happy to be back and have shown their support by filling the entry box for opening day. Our track crew has done another great job preparing the dirt surface and horses look great training over it."
Jockey Francisco Torres is back after winning the riding title at Hawthorne in the spring, and Roger Brueggemann has a large contingent of horses as he looks for a repeat of his training title.