Hawthorne Happy with Strong Fall Meet

(Edited Track Report)

Hawthorne closed out a big year of racing in Chicago with fine numbers for the fall racing meeting. The fall meet brought about full fields, strong racing, and solid handle figures.

Through excellent work by Racing Secretary Gary Duch and his Racing Office staff, Hawthorne again produced the fullest fields in Illinois. On the fall meet, 405 races were contested by 3,894 starters, for an average of 9.61 starters per race. Hawthorne also continued to show its support of Illinois racing through a strong stakes schedule that produced eight different state-bred winners for the eight $100,000 added events. In addition to the eight Illinois stakes, top turf performers were also showcased as Kimberlite Pipe ran on to victory in the Grade 3 Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap on November 2.

Jockey Chris Emigh capped a solid meet as Hawthorne ís leading jockey with 46 wins. He was followed by Larry Sterling Jr. (39 wins), and E.T. Baird (34 wins). This meet was Emigh's second local riding title. He also was top jock here in the fall of 2000.

Trainer Mike Reavis won his third Hawthorne training title as his entrants won 34 times followed by Frank Kirby (26 wins) and Jere Smith Sr. (15 winners). The battle for leading owner was much tighter as Louis O'Brien and Hondo Ranch, Inc. tied atop the standings with 8 winners, followed closely by Richard Trebat and Lothenbach Stables, Inc. with 7 wins apiece.

Fueled by the full fields and competitive racing, Hawthorne's handle figures for the fall came up very strong. Hawthorne was up in all categories on the live product. On-site on Hawthorne races, betting was up 2.39% from like days for 2001. An average of $232,527 was wagered per day on-site in comparison to $227,102 per day in 2001. Hawthorne's signal was also very attractive to out of state bettors. Wagering was up 21.17% ($2,158,724 in 2002 compared to $1,781,544 in 2001) on Hawthorne's races from out-of-state betting locations. Combined total on Hawthorne races was up 15.62% as $2,854,176 was the average on Hawthorne races daily in 2002 compared to $2,468,519 in 2001.

Combined wagering on Hawthorne's live product and full card simulcasting was also up 9.92% as $4,110,341 was averaged in 2002 compared to $3,739,449 in 2001.

"This meet was one of the best Iíve seen in my years at Hawthorne," said Thomas F. Carey III, Hawthorne's Director of Operations. "Our horsemen and racing office staff worked very well together and we were able to put out an extremely strong product. Even though we raced the final two months of a grueling racing season in Chicago, our racing was top notch. I'm looking forward to 2003 as Hawthorne and National Jockey Club will be working together and racing entirely at Hawthorne. I'm hoping that we'll be able to utilize our turf course even more in 2003 and our stakes schedule will bring the top horses in the nation to Hawthorne. This year should be the beginning of bigger things to come."

In 2003, Hawthorne heads into a new endeavor. Hawthorne and National Jockey Club have come together to form Hawthorne National LLC, with all racing to take place at Hawthorne Race Course. Hawthorne will be open year-round for simulcasting in 2003 and live racing takes place when thoroughbreds return on March 1-May 8 and again from September 28-December 31.

In addition, seven consecutive weeks of harness racing will take place at Hawthorne from May 13-June 30.