Hawthorne reports gains in daily average handle, field size for fall meet

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 6, 2020

Hawthorne Race Course reported an increase in average daily pari-mutuel handle for the 2019 fall meet that concluded Jan. 4, 2020.

The Illinois track reported average daily handle on its live product of $1,517,883, up 12.1% from $1,353,875 in 2018. The averages are based on 32 complete programs for 2019 and 41 complete programs during the 2018 fall meet.

Out-of-state wagering on the live Hawthorne product averaged $1,384,232 per day, up 12.7% from $1,227,534 in 2018. On-site betting on live races averaged $48,602, up from $41,596, while in-state handle averaged $85,048, an increase of 2% from $84,048 the previous year.

Field size for the fall meet averaged 8.12 horses per race, up from 7.85 in 2018, the track reported. The dirt figure was 7.98 versus 7.72 in 2018, while turf races averaged 10.05 horses per race, up from 9.34 the previous year. The turf season ended earlier in the fall of 2019 due to weather conditions.

The leading owner for the meet was William Stiritz with 15 wins. Hugh Robertson won the training title with 23 victories, while Jareth Loveberry won 43 races to top the jockey standings.

Due to reconstruction of facilities to accommodate casino gambling, Hawthorne will forego its customary late winter/early spring Thoroughbred meet in 2020 and instead offer night Standardbred racing from mid-February through Sept. 20. The track has arranged, however, for Thoroughbreds and backstretch workers to remain on the property until the spring meet at Arlington Park begins in early May.

Thoroughbred racing returns to Hawthorne Oct. 2.

Meanwhile, Fairmount Park, which also is building a casino on site, will open earlier than usual and offer 17 live racing programs in March and April to help bridge the gap. Based on information on the track website, purses for 2020 have increased and $1,500 to $2,500 will be added to any race in which eight or more horses arrive in the paddock.

Fairmount remains open for stabling and training during the winter.

(Hawthorne Race Course photo courtesy of ITHA)