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Illinois Derby: A weekend for live entertainment

Derby Preview Party on Friday with Loop Rock Girls, Sunday Family Day Featuring Camel & Ostrich Derby

Stickney, Ill.— Hawthorne Race Course Hawthorne Race Course, 3501 S. Laramie, will feature a weekend of festivities to celebrate the Grade 2 Illinois Derby from Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5.  Events will include a Derby Preview Party on Friday, April 3; the 52nd Running of the Illinois Derby on Saturday, April 4, starting at 1:25 p.m.; and a Family Day with activities for children on Sunday, April 5.

The Derby Preview Party on Friday, April 3 will be hosted in the Grandstands featuring a live broadcast by Eddie Webb from 97.9FM The Loop.  The first 500 guests will receive a free Illinois Derby T-shirt.  Contestants from the 64 Loop Rock Girl Contest will mingle with guests, and two lucky winners will have a chance to win thousands of dollars in cash from the Rock Girl Cash Cube.  Friday features also include $1 beers, admission (including programs), hotdogs and pretzels. 

The 52nd Running of the Illinois Derby will take place on Saturday, April 4, with live racing starting at 1:25 p.m.  The $500,000 Grade 2 stakes will be run in race #7 at approximately 4:15PM and will be broadcast live nationally on NBC and TVG. 

Since becoming a prep race for the Kentucky Derby in 2001, the Illinois Derby has continued to attract nationally prominent horses and trainers because of its traditional dirt track and long homestretch.  The last seven winners of the Illinois Derby have all raced for the roses in Kentucky, and three horses from 2008 went on to Kentucky. “Our racing product is more competitive than it’s been in years,” said Carey.  “Longtime horseplayers in the Chicagoland market are rediscovering Hawthorne for live racing as well as simulcast wagering.  We were 1 of only 4 tracks nationally to have an increase in our full-card handle last year.” 

Hawthorne Race Course will also host a special Family Day on Sunday, April 5 featuring the 3rd annual Camel & Ostrich Derby, run between the 4th and 5th and 7th and 8th races respectively. The event will also feature an outdoor barbeque picnic, face painting, games and more.  Gates open at 10:30, racing begins at 1:25PM.

The spring thoroughbred season runs through April 29th at Hawthorne and features races every Thursday through Monday with first post daily at 1:25 p.m. After 100 years, Hawthorne Race Course promises to remain Chicago’s home to showcasing the very best talent in the historic “sport of kings.”  The anniversary distinguishes Hawthorne as the oldest continuously family-owned and operated race track in the nation.  For more information on Hawthorne Race Course visit or call 708-780-3700.

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