Hawthorne's Top Events to Highlight Spring Meet

The Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), displaced from its fall date by a scheduling change, will be run this year on Preakness Day, May 19, for a purse of $500,000. The Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) will be run on the Hawthorne turf on May 12.

The changes are part of an overall stakes schedule of 15 events during Hawthorne's split meet. Six will be run during the spring, the remainder during the fall/winter season.

In recent years, Hawthorne has run live racing from early October through the balance of the year. This year, to accommodate Arlington Park, the Illinois Racing Board put October's dates there and assigned Hawthorne the six weeks that includes all the Triple Crown races.

Hawthorne Director of Operations Thomas Carey III lamented the change in dates robs the Gold Cup of its status as a productive prep race for the Breeders' Cup Classic. But he said the May 19 date has some things going for it.

"This is a day when many top 3-year-olds will be showcased in Baltimore," Carey said. "But Hawthorne Race Course will be another option for 3-year-old horses as well as the focal point for top older handicap competitors."

The Gold Cup, for 3-year-olds and up, was upgraded to Grade II status for this year before the schedule change.

When racing resumes at Hawthorne in November, the highlight will be the Robert F. Carey Memorial (gr. III) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 mile on the turf on Saturday, Nov. 3.

The schedule was on the agenda for approval by the Illinois Racing Board at its January meeting but that meeting was canceled when it became apparent a quorum of six commissioners would not be available. A spokeswoman for the IRB said the board expects no problems in approving Hawthorne's proposal.