By Mike Paradise
The curtain goes up at Hawthorne tonight for its first summer harness racing meeting since 2008. A lot has happen in our industry in those past eight years and here in Illinois much of it not good.
Twice the Illinois legislators passed a slots bill that would have saved the horse racing industry and poured hundreds of millions of much needed dollars into the state coffers only to have it vetoed both times by the state’s previous Governor.
Since then our new governor and our old lawmakers have continued to lock horns and have gone 10 months without a state budget. Without it, no major new bills will be passed and signed. It’s that simple so don’t hold your breath for anything happening soon for a slots bill to help prop up the horse racing industry and save hundreds of more jobs.
Horsemen continue to leave for other racing venues, along with their owners, adding to the ever increasing job loss in our state that is billions of dollars in debt. The fact is our state is broke and will likely remain that way for a long while.
Meanwhile, two more Illinois racetracks, Balmoral and Maywood, have also gone belly-up, adding to the jobs loss in the state.
There has been some good news since a summer harness meet has been conducted at Hawthorne. The near west suburban facility has persevered and somehow survived and was willing grab the baton and host Standardbred racing this year,
Its winter meet was a success giving a lot of us hope that the summer meet will also do well.
It certainly appears the Illinois horsemen are eager to do their part. Over 170 horses were entered for Friday’s opening card. Of those 115 drew in for the 12-race program that gets under way at 7:20 pm local time.
The other 65 or so will have to wait for their chance to make their first start at the summer meet. And there are more horses on the way. Wednesday ’morning qualifiers had 73 horses entered, necessitating nine races. Hawthorne has added a second round of qualifiers tomorrow (Saturday) with a 4:30 pm start..
Springfield hosted nine qualifiers a week ago and another is slated for this morning.
A bevy of ICF 3-year-olds will go postward on in Friday’s opening card that are eligible for Hawthorne’s upcoming stake series.
Erwin F Dygert Memorial stake nominees PJ Boy, Primed N Powerful, Budda Pest and Psychic Survivor compete in Friday’s first race. Freshman Cardinal champion Pastor Clint (Shown in R.E.B, Photo), along with Homershobbyhorse, Powerful Father and Speedy Rendezvous vie in race three. Plesac victor Wrightwood takes on older trotters in race six.
Among the trotting gals eligible for the Beulah Dygert Memorial are Du Quoin Shawnee winner Awfully Emotional. a race one starter, while her Mike Brink trained stable-mate Praise Singer, runner-up in the Violet Final, goes in race three.
Six ICF sophomore pacing fillies edible to the Plum Peach Stake Series knock heads in Friday’s ninth race: Ashlee’s Fine Lady, Likeafireballshot, LK’s Nancy Lee, Narcissistic, Dandy’s Diva and Sara’s Terror.
Another trio of Plum Peachy hopefuls—Exclusive Design, Pretty Stella and Lacarmelilana—will tangle in Friday’s fifth race.
Hawthorne Notes: The 12-race wagering format for the summer has a Exacta, Trifecta and Perfecta on each race. The early Pic 5 begins with race one while the early Pick 4 starts with the second race. The late Pick 4 begins on race 8 while the ninth event starts the late Pick 4. All are 20 cent minimum wagers.
Two Daily Doubles are on tap, races 1 with 2 and races 11 with 12. A trio of 20 cent Pick 3 wagers start-up on races, 3, 5 and 10. The Jackpot High 5 is on the 12th and final race with its 20 cent minimum bet.