For Immediate Release
Contact: Jim Miller (708) 780-3700
Crankin’ Up the Summer Harness Season at
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,
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
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 www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com.