Hawthorne, Horsemen Excited For Meet

Published: December 22, 2015 03:21 pm EST

Hawthorne Race Course President and General Manager Tim Carey and Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association President Dave McCaffrey have given comments on their mutual excitement regarding the upcoming meet of live Standardbred racing at Hawthorne.

"This is a pivotal year for Illinois racing," Carey said via release. "Racetracks are closing, competition from other states has never been stronger and there is no definitive timeline for gaming reform in Illinois that would allow us to truly compete on the national racing circuit. But we have an obligation to the people who work in this sport and we're doing all we can to keep it going."

In September the Illinois Racing Board approved a proposal to bring harness racing back to Hawthorne. Since then the track has been preparing for an influx of horses and horsemen, and has developed an aggressive timeline to transform its dirt track Thoroughbred surface into a crushed limestone Standardbred surface. Hawthorne's fall/winter Thoroughbred meet will close on January 2 and harness racing will begin just six days later on Friday, January 8. During this period thousands of horses will be moving into and out of Hawthorne's 25 barns.

"Hawthorne has really shown a commitment to Illinois racing in agreeing to host a January harness meet," McCaffrey said. "There is a twinge of excitement among horsemen and hopefully we're going to have a good product for players to bet on: full fields, stakes series, top drivers. It's sad that Maywood closed and now Balmoral is closing, but there is a lot to be thankful for with the new opportunity at Hawthorne and fans should be excited for what's coming."

Hawthorne's winter harness meet will begin on Friday, January 8 and feature 10 races per night, five nights per week until February 6.

(With files from Hawthorne)

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