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Life-long Hawthorne Race Course fan, Lee Watson, won a $10,000 “mystery voucher” at the racetrack on Saturday, February 23.  In the fan-favorite promotion, Club Hawthorne members receive a wagering voucher from the track in the mail.  Of the more than 20,000 vouchers mailed, every one is worth at least $5, but only one is worth $10,000.  The value of the prize is unknown until the recipient cashes in the voucher at the Hawthorne or a Club Hawthorne off-track betting facility on Mystery Voucher Day. 


“We are a family-run business that prides itself on customer service and customer loyalty,” said Tim Carey, 4th generation president and general manager of Hawthorne Race Course.  “Our mystery voucher promotion is a staple of our promotional calendar because it directly rewards our most loyal fans just for showing up.”


For Watson, the big prize was a long time coming—he has been coming to Hawthorne since the early 1960s.  Born in Georgia, Watson moved to Chicago in 1950 for to further his career with his young bride, Mattie.  Unbeknownst to him, Mattie started going to Hawthorne with her new friends while he was at work.


When the couple traveled to Ohio in 1960 and visited a racetrack, Watson realized his wife was much more knowledgeable about racing than he.  Mattie admitted to her husband that she’d been going to the track on a weekly basis with her friends since they moved to Chicago.  Though annoyed at first, Watson soon began to enjoy his wife’s hobby.  Upon returning to Chicago, the couple began taking their three kids to the track with them on weekends.


Watson said he has always preferred Hawthorne because of its long stretch.  “Even though I went to the track every day for many years, I haven’t lost a lot at the track, because I didn’t have much to lose.”  


Watson, who lost his beloved Mattie last year has not been able to come to Hawthorne very frequently in the last few years.  Fortunately, his son and his youngest daughter wanted to revisit Hawthorne with their father on mystery voucher day.


“I think I can get my kids to bring me to Hawthorne a little more often now,” Watson said with a chuckle, “This is huge for us.  Mattie would have been so happy.”

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