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Hawthorne Raises Stakes On Illinois Derby

With approval from the Illinois Racing Board, Hawthorne Race Course has officially announced its 2013 spring stakes schedule, highlighted by the Illinois Derby (GIII).  Excluded from the official list of Kentucky Derby prep races, the richest dirt race in Illinois will seek to attract top tier three-year-olds with a 50% increase in purse and a late April calendar position.  The 56th running of the Illinois Derby will take place on April 20th with a $750,000 purse. 


“The Illinois Derby has been and will continue to be the most important dirt race in Illinois.  It’s a vibrant part of Chicago sports history in general and Illinois horseracing in particular, and we’re going to continue to invest in its future,” said Tim Carey, 4th generation president and general manager of Hawthorne Race Course, whose family has owned and operated the track for over a century.  “We’ve worked closely with the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to put together a great stakes schedule and are thrilled with the support our horsemen have shown for this state’s signature stakes race, as well as our entire spring meet.”  The Sixty Sails Handicap, a $200,000 GIII event for fillies and mares that are three years old and older, will also be run on April 20, making the day’s purses more than $1,000,000.


John Walsh, Hawthorne’s assistant general manager in charge of racing operations, echoed Carey’s excitement: “No one really knows what will happen with the new Kentucky Derby points system and there are likely to be some great horses who find their paths to Louisville closed off.  I think a lot of owners are going to be looking closely at our purse, and a lot of trainers with an eye on the Preakness are going to be looking for a final prep that fits well on their calendars.”  The Illinois Derby will be four weeks before the Preakness Stakes and run at a mile and an eighth on dirt.


Hawthorne’s spring stakes scheduled ends with their Illinois Champions Day.  Held April 27, Illinois Champions Day consists of six stakes races for horses that were conceived and/or foaled in Illinois.  Races on Illinois Champions Day include The Pretty Jenny Stakes (IL), The Land of Lincoln Stakes (IL), The Third Chance Handicap (IL), The Robert S. Molaro Handicap (IL), The Peach Of It Handicap (IL) and The Milwaukee Avenue Handicap (IL). The purse for each race is $100,000 ($75,000 plus $25,000 for Illinois Conceived and Foaled). 


Hawthorne’s spring meet is from February 15 to April 28, with live racing Friday through Sunday in February and Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in March and April.  Daily post time is 1:35 p.m. Central Standard Time.



Hawthorne Race Course has been Chicago’s “hometown track” for 122 years and currently offers the only traditional dirt racing for thoroughbreds in northern Illinois.  Hawthorne’s spring meet opens February 15th and runs through April.  Live racing is hosted Friday thru Sunday in February and Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in March and April.  Daily post time is 1:35 PM, and admission costs $4.  The historic track is located a half-mile north of I-55 on Cicero Avenue, and 2 miles south of I-290 on Laramie Avenue at 35th Street.  For more information visit or call Guest Services at 708-780-3733.  Fans are welcome at and for up-to-the-minute racing tips become a follower at

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