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September 20, 2018: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Illinois Honors on the Line in Night of Champions


STICKNEY, IL - Over $1.1 million in purse money will be on the line Saturday night at Hawthorne as Night of Champions will take place. Eleven stakes finals for Illinois-breds will highlight the card and will be joined by a pair of tough invite races to compile the 13 race program. In addition to the races, top drivers in Illinois racing history will be on hand for an autograph session from 7:30 - 8:30 PM on the first floor of the grandstand. Food trucks and the outdoor barbeque will serve food as fans can get up close and personal with all of the racing action. A preview of the 13 race card:

Race 1 - $136,142 Incredible Finale Championship - 2yo Colt & Gelding Pacers

Illinois-bred juvenile pacers kick off the action as a full field lines up. Two horses have been standouts at this level throughout the summer as Meyer on Fire and The Bucket look to battle to the finish. Meyer on Fire comes from the barn of trainer Erv Miller for owner Engel Stable of Illinois LLC as he rides a four race win streak into this final. He got the best of The Bucket last week, winning leg four of this event by three lengths and will look to get the jump again tonight. Mike Oosting drives Meyer on Fire on Saturday. The Bucket races for owners Ken Rucker and George Dremonas as he has won seven times on the year and finished in the money in all ten starts. He was parked without cover in last week's final leg but may look to take the race to Meyer on Fire earlier on Saturday night. Casey Leonard will be in the bike once again for trainer Terry Leonard.

Race 2 - $45,000 Plesac Championship - 3yo & up Trotters

Illinois-bred aged trotters take to the track as the top female trotter in the state looks to beat the boys. Annas Lucky Star will start from the outside for owner Danny Graham and trainer Nelson Willis. A winner of half of her 16 starts on the year, Annas Lucky Star controlled the pace for driver Kyle Wilfong from the rail in last week's prep but may have to work out a trip from the eight-hole on Saturday. Picky Picky Valor has been equally impressive this year for owner Shelley Steele and trainer Gerald Hansen. With eight victories and 20 top three finishes from 22 starts, Picky Picky Valor and driver Casey Leonard will look to turn the tables on Annas Lucky Star from his second-place finish to her last week.

Race 3 - $132,874 Incredible Tillie Championship - 2yo Filly Pacers

Juvenile Pacers match up in one of the more wide open divisions of the Night of Champions card. Fox Valley Torrid looks to benefit from the inside draw as she was narrowly defeated last week after winning four consecutive races prior to that start. Owned by Fox Valley Standardbreds and trained by Rodney Freese, Fox Valley Torrid has shown versatility as she may look to rate close from the inside post on Saturday. Casey Leonard drives. Perch got off to a bit of a later start this summer but has been sharp, winning half of her eight starts and finishing in the top three in all of her races. She is familiar with outside draws, closing strongly from the back in championship races from the outside in both Springfield and DuQuoin. Jay Garrels trains Perch.

Race 4 - $119,470 Kadabra Championship - 2yo Colt & Gelding Trotters

The Kadabra became a very interesting race after the Monday draw as the top two contenders both drew in the outer half of the field. A winner of the last two legs of this race, Trixie's Turbo drew the ten-hole Saturday for owner Charles Doehring, trainer Jared Finn and driver J D Finn. A winner of six of nine on the year, Trixie's Turbo is normally committed to the front end early but showed some versatility in an elimination victory from off the pace in Springfield. Louscardamon starts in post seven as he has speed but has battled staying on stride throughout the summer. Racing for the partnership of Flacco Family Farms LLC and Dr. Patrick Graham for trainer Steve Searle, Louscardamon has shown flashes of brilliance, winning five of his eight starts. He broke stride just after the start last week though, leaving some questions going into the Saturday final. Mike Oosting will be in the bike behind Louscardamon.

Race 5 - $45,000 Tony Maurello Championship - 3yo & up Filly & Mare Pacers

The Maurello final brings forth one of the most consistent older pacers of the summer to face off against another that may be peaking at the right time. Bucklegirl Bobette has been very good throughout the summer, winning nine of 21 races and taking on tough open company pacers at Hawthorne throughout the summer. Coming from the barn of trainer Rob Rittof, Travis Seekman will likely have her in her familiar front-end position early. A pacer with the opposite racing style, Fancy Creek Jolene will be hoping for a quick and contested pace upfront early for her to close into late. Trained by Kim Hamilton, Fancy Creek Jolene and driver Bobby Smolin teamed up mid-August, winning three races in just over a month, including a score in last week's elimination. Normally one to come from off the pace, she could be the horse that is hitting her stride at the right time.

Race 6 - $122,504 Fox Valley Flan Championship - 2yo Filly Trotters

Multiple horses vie for the title of top female juvenile trotter in the state as half of this field can make a strong case that they are best. Louzotic looks to benefit from the inside draw for owner Flacco Family Farms and trainer Steve Searle as she has won six of ten starts on the year, along with winning her division of the last two legs of this race. E L Game On has finished in the top three in 10 of 11 races this summer, closing as the runner-up to Louzotic in her last two starts. Donald and Sharri Huddleston own for trainer Mike Rogers. The winningest juvenile trotter in North America starts right next to E L Game On as Loussolataire looks for her 17th victory of the year for owner Steven Renard. Also trained by Steve Searle, Loussolataire snuck through along the inside late to score in the final leg of this race last week. Puddin Cheeks has early speed and has been a bit of a later bloomer this summer. Racing for trainer Jared Finn, Puddin Cheeks was a strong winner in leg three of this series and just missed to Loussolataire here last week. Encantado will have to work out a trip from her outside draw as she races for trainer Jim Eaton. A winner of four of seven on the year, she has shown she can close late and looks to get a heated pace ahead of her early on Saturday.

Race 7 - $45,000 Robert S. Molaro Championship - 3yo & up Pacers

Aged pacers line up Saturday as Unlocked leads this field off a game victory in last week's elimination. Owned by Megan Rogers Racing Stables Inc. and trained by Norm Parker, Unlocked has made only five starts in 2018. After a bit of a slow start to the year, the seven-year-old gelding put together a good pair of qualifiers at the Meadows before shipping into Hawthorne last week. Driven by Jim Pantaleano, Unlocked got a perfect tracking trip and was able to draw clear at the wire. With 32 victories from 100 career starts for over half a million in earnings, Unlocked will be the likely favorite again on Saturday.

Race 8 - $99,032 Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship - 3yo Filly Trotters

Trainer Steve Searle has a bunch of live trotters on the Night of Champions card as he sends out Trotting Grace in this final. After a good two-year-old campaign in 2017, she got off to a bit of a slow start in 2018. Things have turned around at the right time for her for owners Mystical Marker Farms LLC, Bill Wright and Steve Searle as she has won five of her last six races coming into this final. Regular driver Kyle Husted will be back in the bike once again. Just to Trotting Grace's inside may be her toughest competition, coming from Maui Mama. Also owned by Bill Wright, Maui Mama is trained by Mike Brink and gets Casey Leonard in the bike. She has found the board in all nine of her races in 2018, but has finished behind Trotting Grace in each of her last four races.

Race 9 - $25,000 Invitational Trot

The first of two full field invitational races on the Night of Champions card pits a strong field of trotters, coming together from five different locations. With nearly $700,000 in career earnings, Satin Dancer draws well in the middle of this field for owner Summit Pacing Acres LLC and trainer Byron Hooley. A winner three times on the year, Satin Dancer has been competitive in open races at Pocono, The Meadowlands, and Yonkers. Swan Chase draws the far outside, but comes into the invite hitting the board 12 times from 14 starts on the year. He comes in off a strong string of races at Hoosier Park into this spot and has shown an ability to close with a rush late. Swan Chase is owned by John Barnard for trainer Bill Crone.

Race 10 - $25,000 Invitational Pace

A very fast field of pacers will look to go sub-1:50 as trainer Ron Burke sends out Dancin Yankee on Saturday. With over $1.8 million in career earnings, Dancin Yankee has won nine times on the year for over $160,000 in earnings. A versatile pacer in style, Dancin Yankee looks to go favored in this tough field. New Talent comes in off back to back sub 1:49 miles at Hoosier as he will look to overcome the far outside draw. Owned by Thomas Pollack and Jeffrey Cullipher and trained by Tim Clevenger, New Talent returned off a tough trip in the Dan Patch at Hoosier to come back with a seven-length triumph in 1:48.3 in his next start.

Race 11 - $160,080 Robert F. Carey Jr. Memorial Championship - 3yo Colt & Gelding Pacers

Reigning 2017 Illinois-bred Horse of the Year Fox Valley Gemini looks to continue his string of undefeated races over the Hawthorne track as he leads this talented field. With 17 victories at Hawthorne, Fox Valley Gemini made amends after facing his first two career defeats in Springfield at the Illinois State Fair this summer. He returned to Hawthorne and qualified with the addition of Lasix and then proceeded to destroy a field by over seven lengths in the final leg of this series. Casey Leonard drives for trainer Terry Leonard and owner Jim Ballinger. You'remyhearthrob is the one that snapped Fox Valley Gemini's streak in Springfield, when he scored in driver Kyle Wilfong's 1,000 career driving victory. Trained by Brett Wilfong, You'remyhearthrob has finished in the top three in all 14 starts this season, including a strong victory in his division of the final leg of this race last week.

Race 12 - $125,140 Plum Peachy Championship - 3yo Filly Pacers

Allbeastnobeauty headlines the field in the Plum Peachy final as she enters this race with eight victories from 14 starts on the year. Owned in partnership by trainer Mike Brink, Josh Carter, Mark Brown, and Lawrence Crawford, Allbeastnobeauty was game in victory in four straight races before finishing third in the final leg of this series. Her versatility should put her close to the pace as she will look to take over late for driver Mike Oosting. A champion in 2017, Fox Valley Jazzy will be looking to get the jump on Allbeastnobeauty as she draws inside of her on Saturday night. After winning eight of 13 races in 2017, she has scored just twice from eleven 2018 starts, but has finished in the top three nine times. She races on Saturday for owner Cathy Finn-Kanitz and trainer Dale Kanitz as Ridge Warren drives.

Race 13 - $83,696 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial Championship - 3yo Colt & Gelding Trotters

The final race on the Night of Champions card looks to be very competitive as Majistic Caprice and Illinimight lead this field of ten. Illinimight races for owners Keith and Kevin Miller and trainer Mike Brink as he looks to follow the same pattern that was successful for him in 2017. After a slow start last year, he peaked late, racing well in the final month of the meet. He has had a similar season this year, posting wins in three of his last four races, including a strong score in the final leg of this series last week. Casey Leonard drives. Majistic Caprice has won half of his 18 starts on the year as he draws in the middle of this field. A horse with versatility, he finished fourth behind Illinimight last week, but also had to overcome an outside draw. Majistic Caprice races on Saturday for trainer Roshun Trigg.







Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.

Key Stats

Estimated Revenue (TTM): $9.69M



Hawthorne Race Course, Inc. owns and operates a horseracing track in Stickney, Illinois. The one mile horse track features harness, quarter horse, and thoroughbred racing The company was founded in 1891 and is based in Cicero, Illinois.


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August 26: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Leonard Wins Six on Sunday

STICKNEY, IL - In a meet that he has dominated since the start of the summer, leading driver Casey Leonard had a big night on Sunday night.

Entering the evening with a lead in the driver standings of nearly 100 victories, Leonard opened the night winning with Shooting Cool (1:54.4) for trainer William Crone in race one. He capped off the double as he guided home Girls Girls Girls (1:54.) in the second for Rick Schulze. Race three saw Leonard right back in the winner's circle as The Bucket (1:56.2) held on for trainer Terry Leonard.

In race four, Leonard would finish third with the late closing Triple Lane Melody. After missing the board in race five with Fox Valley B Gump, Leonard was right back on top as he guided Big Garcia Vega (2:00.0) to the score for Roshun Trigg in race six. Race seven saw Leonard control the pace with Finleys Filly (1:55.3) for trainer Terry Leonard.

After missing the board in race eight with Wishin Iwas Rich, Leonard was right back into the winner's circle, driving Fox Valley Torrid to the victory in the ninth. After a costly break from Fox Valley Mojito in race ten, Ideal's Nicole finished fifth in the finale.

Source: Company Website

April 09: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Benes Wins Inaugural Horseplayers Invitational

An event that started in a marketing brainstorming session last fall became reality as the inaugural Hawthorne Horseplayers Invitational took place on Saturday at Hawthorne. The concept of the event started simple, bring together a group of top handicappers in the country, have them handicap amongst one another, and open up to the fans about their wagering strategy. From there the event grew as television cameras were introduced, hours of interviews were conducted and a pair of television shows recapping the event will be aired on NBCSports Chicago at 10:30 AM on April 21 and 28.

The rules of the contest were simple. Every player put up a bankroll of $1,500. The players were given five mandatory races of which they had to play $200 exactly on the first four mandatory events and a minimum of $500 on the final race of the contest. Additionally, each player was allowed one optional play where they could wager $200 on a race not included in the mandatory events.

The field for the contest included four past NHC champions; Judy Wagner (2001), Steve Wolfson (2003), Stanley Bavlish (2007), and Jim Benes (2013). Additionally, 2009 NHC Tour champion Bryan Wagner was in the field, along with 2017 NHC tour champion Mike Ferrozzo, NHC Player's Committee Chairman and NTRA Horseplayers Hall of Fame member Chris Larmey, and 2017 Belmont Betting Challenge and 2018 NHC third-place finisher Garett Skiba. Matt Carothers of TVG flew in for the contest as did Peter Rotondo, Jr. and Peter Rotondo, Sr. of Horseplayers on Esquire Network.

A mix of races were chosen for the mandatory events as maidens down the hill on the turf at Santa Anita kicked off the contest. With the favorite winning followed by a 30-1 shot in second, Chris Larmey moved atop the early leaderboard, followed by Stanley Bavlish, Eric Barlund, and Peter Rotondo, Sr.


September 07: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Autograph Session, Pair of Invitational Races Added to Night of Champions Card

Saturday, September 22nd is already going to be a huge night of racing at Hawthorne Race Course as 11 finals will be taking place for the Night of Champions card. These finals will crown the top Illinois-bred trotters and pacers in all age categories as part of a 13-race card that evening.

In addition to the 11 Championship finals, racing secretary Robin Schadt has added a pair of $25,000 invitational races to round out the card. One invitational will be offered for trotters and another for pacers. For details on these $25,000 events, please contact the racing office at Hawthorne at 708-780-3690 or 800-850-4188.

Joining the live action on the race track will be the return of some of Chicagoland's greatest drivers of the past for an autograph session and meet and great. Hall of Fame driver Dave Magee will be at Hawthorne along with: Nelson Willis, Connel Willis, Lavern Hostetler, Jerry Graham, Wayne Temple, Doug Hamilton, Joe Anderson, Carl Porcelli, Dwight Banks, Delvin "Ole" Insko, Dan Shetler, Ron Marsh, and Randy Jacobs. These greats will be available on the first floor of the Hawthorne grandstand and will also be presenting in the winner's circle throughout the night

Source: Company Website

September 07: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Juvenile Trotters and Pacers in Spotlight

On Friday night at Hawthorne the females were the focus as the boys took their turn to shine Saturday at Hawthorne. Leg three action was featured for juvenile pacers and trotters. Two divisions of the Incredible Finale took place for two-year-old pacers along with a pair of divisions for the trotters in the Kadabra.

Race three was the first division of the Incredible Finale as a field of eight was led by heavily favored The Bucket with Casey Leonard driving. Leaving for the lead were multiple horses as Ryan Racketeer was able to hold his inside position through the quarter in :29.1. On the backside, Mike Oosting guided Sporty McGrew to a brief lead but The Bucket was quick to move behind him, passing the half with the lead in :58.1. On the turn, The Bucket opened up a three length advantage as he cruised through three quarters in 1:28.1. In the lane, Sporty McGrew tipped out and tried hard as Leonard kept The Bucket to task. Nearing the wire, longshot Fox Valley Julius found late life, but The Bucket was able to hold on to win by a length. Fox Valley Julius was second while Sporty McGrew finished third. The final time for the mile was 1:57.0. The Bucket is owned by Ken Rucker and George Dremonas and trained by Terry Leonard.

Race four was the first division of the Kadabra as a field of eight lined up.

September 03: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Leg Three Action in Night of Champions Races

ith Night of Champions just three weeks away, the final legs to determine who makes the finals will be conducted over the next two weeks. Friday night at Hawthorne focused on the juvenile fillies as trotters competed in two divisions of the Fox Valley Flan and pacers contested two divisions in the Incredible Tillie.

The evening's opener was the first division in the Fox Valley Flan as a field of eight lined up. Getting away quickly was Puddin Cheeks and J D Finn, passing the quarter in :30.1. The favorite maintained his advantage through a half in 1:01.0 as he cruised into the final turn. After three quarters in 1:31.4, Puddin Cheeks faced a challenge from Lou's Paramour to her outside. Mid-stretch, Puddin Cheeks dug in, and drew clear at the wire, winning in 2:00.2. Loussolataire came up along the inside to finish second while Lou's Paramour was third. Puddin Cheeks is owned by Dennis Gardner and Finn Racing LLC and trained by Jared Finn.

Race two on the card was the first division of the Incredible Tillie as Fox Valley Lolo was a late scratch. Fox Valley Halsey was sent away as the choice with Casey Leonard driving. Sent hard from the outside was Valar Morghulis as she passed the quarter in :27.4.

August 04: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Walter White Equals Track Record

STICKNEY, IL - On a warm Saturday evening at Hawthorne, a nice card came together as Illinois-breds were getting their final preps in before heading to the state fair along with a pair of solid open-company fields. The focus of the night came in race seven as a fine field of eight open trotters lined up.

While Annas Lucky Star and Picky Picky Valor took the majority of the wagering action, it was Walter White who stole the show. After Picky Picky Valor passed the opening quarter in :28.2, driver Juan Franco guided Walter White to the lead on the backside, passing the half in :56.3. Chased by Picky Picky Valor into the turn, Walter White opened up a two length lead through three quarters in 1:24.4. In the lane, Franco kept Walter White to task, as he held clear, winning in 1:53.3.

The final time of Walter White equaled the track record for aged trotters at Hawthorne that was held by Dink Adoo, set on July 15, 2005. Walter White is owned by Robert Silberberg and trained by Jim Eaton. The win was the 21st for Walter White, coming in career start 100 and was also a lifetime mark for the six-year-old gelding.

Source: Company Website

August 02: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Trainer Nicole Agosti Records First Career Victory

STICKNEY, IL ' The opener at Hawthorne on Thursday night saw a first as trainer Nicole Agosti recorded her first career victory. The 26-year-old Agosti sent out Red Red Redneck for owners David and Adam Brooks to an upset victory in race one as driver Kyle Wilfong was able to squeeze through along the inside late for the score.

The win came in career start number six for Agosti as she had previously sent out starters at Hoosier Park, along with Red Red Redneck debuting for her last week at Hawthorne. Coming from a racing background, Agosti's parents worked with Standardbred horses from the time Nicole was very young. The family transitioned to thoroughbreds for a ten year stretch when Nicole was five-years-old before moving back to the Standardbred industry.

The Buffalo, New York native is known for her hard working nature as she has worked tirelessly for the Brett Wilfong stable since 2012. At that time she met driver Kyle Wilfong and the two have been together since.

Red Red Redneck came to Agosti from trainer David Brooks as she stated, 'I've been fortunate to help David on and off over the course of the last year. David wanted to try something different with Red Red Redneck and sent him to me with the hopes that a change of scenery would turn things around for him.

June 28: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Juvenile Trotters Face Off in Kadabra and Fox Valley Flan Series

Thursday evening at Hawthorne featured leg on action in two divisions of the Kadabra stakes and Fox Valley Flan stakes. The Kadabra is for Illinois-bred, two-year-old colt and gelding trotters while the Fox Valley Flan is for state-bred two-year-old filly trotters.

Race one was the first division of the Kadabra as Fox Valley Picaso entered as a heavy favorite off his easy victory in the Cardinal two weeks ago. Breaking before the start was Rusty Red Valor as the favorite cleared the lead, passing the opening quarter in :29.3. On the backstretch, Crackerjack Bill moved to challenge, but Casey Leonard and Fox Valley Picaso didn't allow that to last for long as they moved back to the front prior to the half in 1:01.0. After three-quarters in 1:32.3, Fox Valley Picaso was given a little urging and responded nicely, opening up to win clearly. The final time for the mile was 2:02.2. 25-1 shot Frontier Manard closed to finish second while Crackerjack Bill held third. Fox Valley Picaso is owned by Todd John and trained by Herman Wheeler.

Race two was the first division of the Fox Valley Flan series as Lous Mistress was scratched, leaving a field of six, led by favorite Heidi High for owner, trainer, and driver Charles Arthur.

June 28: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: The Rarest of Training Feats

One of the rarest of training feats occurred on Thursday afternoon and evening. 35-year-old trainer Chris Banks kicked off his afternoon in fine fashion when the five-year-old mare Sperling won the opening race at Arlington Park by a half-length. The five-year-old mare was claimed by Banks last fall at Hawthorne and is owned by Banks Racing LLC.

The win was the first training victory in Banks' career as a thoroughbred trainer, but Chris couldn't waste much time as he had to drive across town to get ready for the evening harness card at Hawthorne.

In race six at Hawthorne, Banks sent out second choice Vegas Bomb in the non-winners of one lifetime event. The race got off to a poor start as Vegas Bomb encountered early trouble but was able to rally late for the victory. Vegas Bomb was also owned by Banks Racing LLC.

"In my 39 years of race calling, I cannot ever remember such a feat happening," said Hawthorne track announcer Peter Galassi. "I know for sure this is a first in Illinois, and until someone proves us wrong, it may be the first time it has ever occurred."

"I have always loved horses and being around horses," trainer Chris Banks said after the wins. "With the summer meet ending last year and the uncertainty of harness racing in Illinois, I wanted to get involved with thoroughbreds and Sperling was a great one to jump into the mix with.

June 25: Hawthorne Race Course, Inc.: Gemini Makes it 14 in a Row

As leg two action in the Night of Champions races continued on Sunday at Hawthorne, Illinois-bred three-year-old pacers and trotters were the focus in the Robert F. Carey Memorial and the Erwin F. Dygert Memorial trot.

Three divisions of the Carey took place Sunday, kicking off in the fourth race. A field of nine lined up as You'remyhearthrob was the 4-5 favorite with Kyle Wilfong driving. Leaving quickly from the gate was the favorite as he opened up a four-length advantage through the opening quarter in :27.3. Maintaining his lead through the half in a snappy :55.4, You'remyhearthrob was well clear into the turn as Frontier Frank chased. Passing three quarters in 1:23.3, the advantage remained four lengths into the stretch. Unchallenged to the wire, You'remyhearthrob won by three and a half lengths in 1:51.4. Frontier Frank held second while M T Gunslinger was third. You'remyhearthrob is trained by Brett Wilfong.

Race five was the second division of the Carey as another heavy favorite led the field of ten with Backstreet Lawyer sent away as the 2-5 choice for driver Michael Oosting. Making the lead was longshot Special Sauce as he was chased through the opening quarter by Shark Flipper in :27.4.

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