Summer Harness Season Kicks off at Hawthorne

STICKNEY, IL – For the second time in as many months, the major track conversion from thoroughbred to harness surface has been completed as Hawthorne prepares to open the summer racing season.  11,000 tons of dirt have been removed from the racetrack, the main track rail has been replaced by pylons, and the outside turf course rail removed, all in 72 hours to prepare for the meet.

A solid driving colony has returned to Hawthorne as perennial leading driver Casey Leonard will be joined by Kyle Wilfong, Kyle, Husted, Ridge Warren, and Tyler Shehan.  Leading trainers Tom Simmons, Terry Leonard, Frank Petrelli, and Mike Brink are all back with stables while Brett Wilfong, Rob Rittof, and Roshun Trigg look to have big meets as well.

The racing calendar opens with a three day weekend, racing Friday through Sunday this week.  After this week, the regular four day a week schedule will take place, with races every Thursday through Sunday with a 7:05 PM post.  Tomorrow night Hawthorne will host a special early post of 6:30 PM.

As horses get back into shape, a round of claiming series will open the season, followed by Cardinal and Violet races before leg one action of the Hawthorne stakes program kicks off at the end of the month.

An increased social media presence will be evident this season at Hawthorne.  Cameras will go behind the scenes in the barn area to get footage of horses in preparation for racing action.  GoPro cameras will be utilized on our drivers and in the starting car and the incorporation of drone footage will be added as the racing season progresses.

Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, kicks off the summer harness racing season tonight, May 4 through September 24.  Fall thoroughbreds close out the year, running from October 5 through December 29.  For more information, visit or contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700.