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Crankin' Up the Summer Harness Season

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jim Miller (708) 780-3700


Crankin’ Up the Summer Harness Season at Hawthorne


STICKNEY, IL – Following the conclusion of the spring thoroughbred season at Hawthorne, the track crew embarked once again on the racing surface conversion. As the only pari-mutuel track left in the United States to convert from a dirt thoroughbred surface to a limestone harness track, crews worked tirelessly stripping off dirt, removing rails, clearing barns and prepping the new surface, all in 96 hours, to prepare for the start of the summer harness season.  Everything was prepped in time for horsemen to arrive on Saturday, May 1 as the summer harness season kicked off on Friday, May 7.

              When racing commenced on opening night, driver Kyle Wilfong was ready to pounce.  Wilfong kicked off the racing season winning the meet opener behind Surreal Art (1:53.0) for trainer Perry Smith. That victory started a string of four straight trips to the winner’s circle for Wilfong as he drove home Nora Tova (1:55.3), Wildcat Delight (1:55.1) and Castle Flight (1:52.0) to wins in races two through four.  Wilfong made it five victories on the opening night card as RSVP trotted home in 1:58.2 for trainer Nicole Agosti to take race eight. 

              The weekend saw the return of some of the top Illinois-breds to the track as they did not disappoint.  A pair of Illinois-bred champs faced off in Saturday’s open pace as Fox Valley Gemini (1:50.4) just caught a very game He’zzz A Wise Sky, who battled every step of the way. Owned by Jim Ballinger, trained by Terry Leonard and driven by Casey Leonard, Fox Valley Gemini won for the 41st time from 62 career starts, surpassing half a million in career earnings. Casey and Terry Leonard teamed up later on the card as Cracklin Rosie (1:57.0) won race nine. 

Todd Warren won a pair of races on Saturday, grabbing the filly and mare open pace with Maggie Rhee (1:54.1), a mare he also trains, as well as driving trotter Lucky Valerie (2:00.0) to her first career win for trainer Gerald Hansen.  Kyle Wilfong grabbed his sixth victory of the racing weekend as rambunctious Crankin’ It Up made it two weekend wins for trainer Nicole Agosti, pacing home in the Saturday evening slop in 1:56.2.

On Sunday some of the top Illinois-bred trotters made their season debut.  Kicking off the evening trainer Steve Searle had a pair face off as Lousraptor (1:57.1) got the best of Louscardamon for driver Juan Franco, winning by a length and a half.  Later in the evening driver Kyle Husted reunited with Louzotic as they took race seven in 1:58.3, the second training victory on the card for Searle.  Driving doubles on the Sunday card came from Todd Warren, Ridge Warren, Atlee Bender and Kyle Wilfong.  Wilfong’s pair of winners boosted him to eight for opening weekend.


Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, races three meets in 2021.  The spring thoroughbred meet concluded on April 25. The summer Suburban Downs at Hawthorne harness meet began on Friday, May 7 and races every Friday-Sunday through September 26.  The fall thoroughbred meet opens October 1 and races through December 26. First post nightly for harness is 7:10 PM. For any information about Hawthorne Race Course visit the website

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