Despite weather, Hawthorne reports gains for fall meet

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 2, 2018

Hawthorne Race Course reported increases in average daily pari-mutuel handle and field size for its 2017 fall meet even though only 27 races were run on the turf versus 46 in 2016.

Average daily handle for the 36-day meet that ended Dec. 29 was $1,708,081, up 9.1% from $1,564,655 in 2016, according to statistics released by the Illinois racetrack. On-track wagering on live races was down 5%—officials cited poor weather the first two months of the meet—but average daily in-state wagering on the Hawthorne signal increased 3.7% to $105,305.

The biggest increase came via export handle, which totaled $1,551,992 for the 2017 fall meet, up 10% from 2016.

Track officials said average field size per race was 8.49; for the comparable meet in 2016 the average was 7.80 horses per race.

For its spring meet and fall meet through Dec. 10, purses at Hawthorne averaged about $119,000 a day, according to Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association statistics. The figure is up about 8% from $110,000 per day for both meets in 2016.

“This fall meet was about making things simple and doing everything we could to offer a great wagering product for our players,” Hawthorne President and General Manager Tim Carey said in a release. “Fans want to see full fields and competitive racing and our horsemen were great about filling races at all levels. We make it a point at Hawthorne to avoid racing on top of other tracks, something our players and simulcast partners appreciate as we aim to be a focus for the bettor. The support we receive on a daily basis from TVG with racing coverage along with our online partner in Xpressbet have helped bring Hawthorne back to the forefront in racing.”

Funding from the Illinois Department of Agriculture—the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and other horsemen’s groups were involved in lobbying for it—allowed Hawthorne to reinstate its stakes schedule, including the grade III Hawthorne Gold Cup.

Hawthorne is scheduled to reopen Jan. 5 for a winter Standardbred meet. Thoroughbred racing will return in March.