Stickney, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Friday marks the opening day for Hawthorne Race Course's 37-day 2014 spring racing meet.
Although the winter weather has been brutal for the Chicago area, Hawthorne President and General Manager Tim Carey is optimistic about the upcoming season.
"This has been a very tough winter on everyone," stated Carey. "Our track crew has done a great job to allow for us to train as much as we have during this dark period. That being said, we know many horsemen are behind in their training but as things warm up, we expect they will catch up quickly. I expect us to gather momentum as the meet progresses and I'm looking forward to another strong Illinois Derby in April."
As always, the centerpiece of Hawthorne's meeting will the $500,000 Illinois Derby on Saturday, April 19. Departing won last year's Illinois Derby and continued winning with victories in the West Virginia and Super Derbies.
The 1 1/8-mile stakes is situated four weeks prior to the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of racing's Triple Crown, at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, May 17.