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A Busy Time for Contest Qualifiers

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jim Miller (708) 780-3700


A Busy Time for Contest Qualifiers at Hawthorne


STICKNEY, IL – Hawthorne Race Course has quickly become known as one of the top destinations for contest qualifiers every year.  With multiple contests, multiple NHC Seats up for grabs, and a player-friendly contest format, the contests at Hawthorne continually produce some of the top NHC finishers year in and year out.

                A busy contest weekend took place at Hawthorne the weekend following Thanksgiving when eight NHC seats were up for grabs. For the Friday contest, players managed a $300 live bankroll as they were able to maneuver amongst numerous tracks and all of the wagers they offered.  Gary Lyons emerged on top at the end, building his bankroll to $2,500.87.  With the win, Gary earned the coveted NHC seat along with a chance to win a $1 million bonus if he is victorious in the NHC in February in Vegas.  John Thomas was a close second in the Friday contest, raking in $2,476.20 from his original $300 starting bankroll.  John also receive an NHC entry.  Tom Kassel ($2,020), Philip Lam ($1,856), and Daniel Mustari ($1,500) finished 3rd-5th, with each receiving entry into Hawthorne’s winter Last Chance Qualifier.

                On Saturday, six NHC seats were being played for as the field managed a $500 bankroll.  The group of established players had a great day with 17 players more than doubling their bankroll.  The appeal of the $1 million bonus being offered by Hawthorne to the top two finishers if they win the NHC drew in many previously qualified players for the NHC.

                In the end, the $1 million bonus came into play, not only for the top finishers, but also for those looking for the coveted qualifying seats.  Longtime handicapper Dave Gutfreund got back nearly ten times his initial investment, winning the Saturday contest with a final bankroll of $4,940.  Michael Mulvihill also had a great day, earning $3,940.  Dave and Michael weren’t in need of the NHC seats though as each had already earned two entries.  Both were playing solely for the chance at the $1 million bonus.

                With the top two not in need of NHC seats, the next six finishers received those prizes.  While Gary McMaster ($3,370), Alexa Zepp ($3,348), Bill Downes ($3,168), and Matt Ordzowialy ($2,760) would have qualified regardless as part of the top six finishers, Daniel Mustari, Jr. ($2,654) and Eric Counts ($2,644) can thank Gutfreund and Mulvilhill as they received entry as well.

                Along with the trip to the NHC for all of the contest qualifiers, each also received invitations to the Hawthorne Handicapping Invitational taking place on March 30, 2019.  The Invitational brings in some of the top players in the nation for a contest where a big bankroll is managed with players giving insight into how they play the races as the contest will be televised on NBC Sports Chicago.

                Hawthorne still has additional chances coming up for contest players as the Winter Last Chance Contest will be taking place the first week of January.  On January 4th and 5th, a pair of NHC seats will be up for grabs each day, as players will manage a $400 bankroll.  Additionally, the winner each day will also become eligible for the $1 million bonus offer if they are to win the NHC.

                For details on all contests, visit Guest Services at Hawthorne Race Course or our website at


Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, continues  through January 12, 2019.  For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.


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