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Feb 08, 2013

Hawthorne ready for 2013 opening


Stickney, IL (Sports Network) - The 2013 spring race meet at Hawthorne Race Course begins Friday, Feb. 15. The meeting extends until Sunday, April 28.

The highlight will be the 56th running of the Illinois Derby on Saturday, April 20. The 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds is getting a big boost in purse money from $500,000 to $750,000.

"The Illinois Derby has been and will continue to be the most important dirt race in Illinois. It's a vibrant part of Chicago sports history in general and Illinois horse racing in particular, and we're going to continue to invest in its future," said Tim Carey, fourth generation president and general manager of Hawthorne.

The change in date for the Illinois Derby, from four weeks before the Kentucky Derby to later in the month, puts it in play for horses aiming toward the Preakness Stakes.

"No one really knows what will happen with the new Kentucky Derby points system and there are likely to be some great horses who find their paths to Louisville closed off," noted John Walsh, Hawthorne's assistant general manager in charge of racing operations. "I think a lot of owners are going to be looking closely at our purse, and a lot of trainers with an eye on the Preakness are going to be looking for a final prep that fits well on their calendars."

Won last year by Done Talking, the Illinois Derby has been claimed in recent years by War Emblem, Ten Most Wanted, Pollard's Vision and Musket Man.

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