Illinois Dates Change Hurts Breeders' Cup Prep

Changes in Illinois racing dates may cost Hawthorne Race Course a strategic early October spot for its newly upgraded Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II).

Hawthorne may have to run the race in the spring, which would wipeout everything the track has done to establish the Gold Cup as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), according to operations director Tom Carey III.

"The position we're placed in his disheartening and discouraging," Carey said. "It's a very, very difficult place we've been put in."

In the past two years, horses such as Golden Missile and Awesome Again have come through the Gold Cup en route to the Classic, which was run Oct. 7 this year. For 2001, however, the Illinois Racing Board awarded October racing to Arlington Park. Hawthorne was given a split season, May and the first half of June, then the final two months of the year.

Carey said dates under consideration for the 2001 Gold Cup include May 19, June 2 and Nov. 3.

"We'll definitely look at the most viable option," Carey said. "It might be spring. But I'm not sure that's the best place for it."

Problems with the spring date, he said, include what seems to be a diminished field of older horses available for next year and competition from the Dubai World Cup, as well as the Pimlico Special and other U.S. races.