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Hawthorne Race Course
Hawthorne Race Course, located near Chicago in Stickney/Cicero, IL, was originally opened in 1890 by businessman and Kentucky Derby winning thoroughbred owner Edward Corrigan. The track has changed ownership over the years, but is still family owned. Hawthorne currently holds a spring meet which runs from late February to the end of April. Its fall meet runs from the beginning of October through late December.
Hawthorne Race Course Track Layout
Hawthorne has a one mile dirt oval with one of the longest home stretches in the country It is known as a deep, tiring surface that suits horses with a late closing style. The turf course is a seven furlong oval that is used most frequently during the early months of the fall meeting.
Major Races and Events
Hawthorne is noted for its three signature races throughout the year: The Hawthorne Gold Cup (G.II), The Illinois Derby (Gr.III), and The Hawthorne Derby (G.III). The Hawthorne Gold Cup and Hawthorne Derby are run during the fall meet, while the Illinois Derby is run during the spring meet in April as a prep race for the Kentucky Derby.
The Gold Cup is Hawthorne’s flagship race and one of noted historical importance for older horses. The $350,000, mile and a quarter race has been run since 1928. Due to its positioning on the racing calendar it has served as a viable prep for the Breeder’s Cup Classic.
The Illinois Derby was inaugurated in 1923, although it endured a lengthy hiatus from 1939-1962. Prior to 2000, the race was held between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but the decision was made to change the race to four weeks in advance of the Derby. This decision instantly brought the race greater notoriety and established it as a key prep for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races. War Emblem took the 2002 Illinois Derby en route to winning the Derby and Preakness. The race is run at a mile and an eighth on the main track for a purse of $500,000.
The $250,000 mile and an eighth Hawthorne Derby is king among Hawthorne’s grass races and a key turf race that attracts top three year-olds from around the country. Established in 1965, the race regularly draws deep and competitive fields and attractive betting opportunities for horse players.