Baby it's cold outside, as the song goes. Nothing could be any truer than those lyrics here in Chicago but the harness racing action will be heating things up starting on Friday (Jan. 5) at Hawthorne Race Course.
Despite a stretch of record-breaking cold in which temperatures have struggled to get into the single digits during daylight hours, a track crew of more than 100 has worked tirelessly to move more than 11,000 tons of sand, level everything to perfection and remove the safety rail to have things ready for the Friday opener which will get underway at 7:05 p.m.
The upcoming winter meet will consist of 27 nights of racing with the opening two weeks going on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday schedule. After that racing will be conducted on a Thursday through Sunday schedule through Feb. 18. A special Monday night of racing will be presented on Presidents' Day (Feb. 19) to close out the winter proceedings. There will be no live racing on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 4) but the trotters and pacers will be in action on Monday (Feb. 5) instead.
There will be a variety of giveaways and contests during the winter meet starting with a well-timed knit hat giveaway on Saturday (Jan. 6). The popular Hawthorne Gold Cup Dining Room will open every Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. for those wishing to enjoy a great meal while viewing the races from a comfortable climate controlled seat right on the finish line. Fan friendly Friday’s also return with a $500 cash back giveaway plus food and drink specials.
On the track the driving colony will be as strong as ever with last year’s top reinsmen Casey Leonard and Mike Oosting leading the way. They will be joined by the likes of past regulars like Todd Warren and Sam Widger, who are both returning from Hoosier Park, as well as newcomer Brandon Bates who enjoyed his biggest year to date in 2017 while campaigning at Hoosier. Ryan Anderson begins the meet just three visits to the winner’s circle away from reaching the prestigious 3,000 win mark in his career.
The racing action should be very competitive as well with three claiming series attracting horses from various tracks throughout the U.S. and 11 different conditioned series drawing both state-bred and open pacers and trotters from throughout the Midwest.
Once again post time each night during the winter meet will be at 7:05 p.m. For a complete 2018 racing schedule or any other information please visit www.hawthorneracecourse.com. (Hawthorne Race Course)