June 2, 2020 (Stickney, IL) --
In close coordination with industry stakeholders and government regulators,
Hawthorne Race Course will implement stringent new
protocols for the return of live horseracing without on-site fans, also
known as "studio racing." Races will be hosted two nights
per week on Saturdays and Sundays beginning June 6th. Starting
Friday, June 12 racing will be conducted three nights per week, Friday
through Sunday. Live racing was
suspended at Hawthorne on March 16th under Governor Pritzker's emergency
declaration, however as an agribusiness in the care of animals, essential
operations on Hawthorne's backstretch have continued where approximately
450 horses are stabled. The new protocols require a minimal increase
in on-site staffing and strict adherence to social distancing and other
health safety guidelines.
"On behalf of the entire industry, we're very thankful to
the Governor and the Department of Agriculture for working with us to
create a solution that recognizes the unique needs and challenges of
horseracing," said Tim Carey, president and general manager of
Hawthorne Race Course. "There are hundreds of small businesses
across the state that rely on racing at Hawthorne so this will be a boost
for the Illinois economy that will not impede efforts to flatten the curve
of the spread of Covid-19."
As race tracks across the country
begin to reopen under similar scenarios, Hawthorne will be one of the first
tracks to host harness racing. The new protocols for Standardbred
harness racing include (but are not limited to):
paddocking of horses in open-air barns with additional spacing between
access to the paddock by licensed, essential racing personnel only
temperature checks and facial coverings for all workers and residents in
spray disinfecting of the entire paddock and ship-in barn
quarters for harness drivers to maintain social distancing
office space for racing judges, stewards and
Comprehensive studio racing protocols were developed with
approval from The Governor's Office, The Department of Agriculture, The
Department of Public Health, The Cook County Department of Health, The
Village of Stickney, The Illinois Racing Board, and The Illinois Harness
Horsemen's Association. Hawthorne estimates that no more than 25
additional people will be required at the 113-acre facility to conduct live
racing as compared to care and training-only operations and that racing
will be possible under recommended social distancing guidelines.
"Horsemen are very resilient by nature, but this change
comes just in time for our members," said Tony Somone,
executive director of the Illinois Harness Horsemen Association.
"On average it costs $1500/month to take care of a racehorse whether
it's racing and earning money or not. Most trainers have between 5
and 10 horses and we haven't been racing for nearly three months so many of
these businesses are at a breaking point."
Fans will be able to watch and wager on Hawthorne's races
online or through licensed mobile apps, including Club Hawthorne (available
in the app store or at wager.clubhawthorne.com).
In accordance with Illinois' Phase 3 Reopening Guidelines for non-essential
retail businesses, Hawthorne began to offer "bet-and-go" services
at the race track as well as at certain suburban
off-track facilities beginning on Friday, May 29.