Hawthorne increases purses 18%; another increase takes effect July 16

By: Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Posted: June 3, 2023

Effective June 15 and through July 15, Hawthorne Race Course purses will increase across the board by 18% as a result of advocacy by the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

After Arlington Park closed in September 2021, that track attempted to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars from the horsemen’s purse account. Arlington, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., eventually folded in its attempt to keep the money after the ITHA pursued litigation against Arlington that compelled the track to release the money.

The ITHA is now directing the remaining settlement funds to Hawthorne purses, which will account for the purse increase from June 15 to July 15.

Separately, as the ITHA shared on May 27, Illinois lawmakers agreed to transfer $5.1 million of the surplus in the state’s Horse Racing Fund to purses. The Thoroughbred purse account at Hawthorne will receive $2.295 million of that sum and purses will increase accordingly thereafter—possibly starting in mid-July—upon the expiration of the purse increase beginning June 15.

The ITHA, which successfully advocated in the state capital of Springfield for this objective, will work with Hawthorne to determine the precise timing and size of those purse increases. The Standardbred meet later this year at Hawthorne and the Thoroughbred meet at FanDuel Sportsbook and Racing (Fairmount Park) will receive additional purse money as well as part of the surplus.

The ITHA and Hawthorne have an agreement on purses from mid-July through the end of the meet. The top allowance race will go for $44,000, up from $40,000 (from June 15-July 13). Maiden special weight events will race for $38,000, a nice jump from $30,000 at the start of the meet. The bottom purse of $13,500 is for maiden-claiming $6,250; it was $10,500 at the start of the meet.

We recognize this is a difficult time for Illinois Thoroughbred racing and we are proud to continue serving and supporting the working men and women of our industry.