01/30/2013 11:30AM

Hawthorne boosts Illinois Derby purse to $750,000


The Illinois Racing Board during a regular monthly meeting Tuesday in Chicago approved Hawthorne Race Course’s request to raise the purse of the Illinois Derby from $500,000 to $750,000 this year.

The purse increase was included in a requested 2013 stakes schedule submitted by Hawthorne. The IRB approved Hawthorne’s schedule unanimously, but voted only 5-3 to approve Arlington Park’s stakes schedule. The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association voiced opposition to the $400,000 American St. Leger, a 1 3/4-mile turf race on Million Day that was introduced in 2012.The ITHA backed the $250,000 Illinois Derby purse increase despite the fact Hawthorne has cut overnight purses for the start of its 2013 winter-spring meet, which begins Feb. 15.

The Illinois Derby has been a flashpoint for controversy since Churchill Downs notably excluded the race from a Derby qualifying system based on accumulating points in designated races. Under the old graded-stakes-earnings system, the Grade 3 Illinois Derby, staged three weeks before the Kentucky Derby, held some measure of appeal as a Derby prep race.

Lacking qualifying points, there’s little incentive for horsemen to target the race with top-tier prospects, and Hawthorne will run the Illinois Derby on April 20 this year, just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Tim Carey, Hawthorne’s president, said the race has been repositioned as a potential Preakness or Belmont prep for talented horses who lack sufficient Derby qualifying points. Such horses, however, would seem more likely to run in one of the major point-rich Derby qualifiers like the Wood Memorial or the Santa Anita Derby on April 13 in a last-ditch effort to make the Kentucky Derby than to wait for Hawthorne’s race.

Hawthorne will host only one other open stakes race in the spring, the Grade 3 Sixty Sails, which is part of the Illinois Derby card. Six $100,000 stakes for Illinois-breds are scheduled for April 27.

Robert Hayes More than 1 year ago
Would like to see Dreaming of Julia in the Ill. Derby
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Sounds like they are giving $$ to the out of town shippers who they will probably never see again.
Tony Rallo More than 1 year ago
Yeah great move. Lets lower the purse on the races across the board and hurt the local trainers and jockeys but races the purse 250k on the only race of the meet that goes to out of town talent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It would be great if the horses that run in the IL Derby end up being the best of the crop and trounce any horses that run in the KY Derby. Churchill is as greedy as they come and the KY Derby is the most overrated race on the planet. DOWN WITH CHURCHILL DOWNS AND THE KY DERBY!
sat.customer More than 1 year ago
I don't see why anyone would thumbs down this post. CD is very greedy and not incl Ill Derby in pt system is petty. KY Derby has been the most overrated race since the 90's. Lots of horses have won recently that haven't won another UNrestricted stake. When was the last derby winner to win the BC Classic?
Brian More than 1 year ago
Tim Carey, hats off!. I was hoping you would do that and it's an extremely shrewd move. The best way to show CD that their point system is a joke is to make the Hawthorne Derby a more attractive alternative than trying to stay on the Derby (Point) Trail. There are only two things that I think could have been. First, raise it to $1.25 MM and take out the Arlington Million crap at its knees. Second, any track with a 100 point races should drop their purse to $1. Why pay purse money when they have to come to your track to get into the Derby anyway?
Joe Quillen More than 1 year ago
CDI could have kept the old system and enhanced the "stakes money earned" with the grade of the stake (3x for a Grade 1 race, 2x for Grade 2 race, 1x for Grade 1 race) and devalue the turf and sprint races by taking the stakes money earned and divided it by two. The "stakes money earned" could have been used as a "stakes points system" (1 point per dollar earned) with the weight of races on grade 1s and devaluation of turf and sprint races.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great idea Joe. However, while you plan makes the most sense, it will not help to take Hawthorne out of business, so the greedy Churchill will have none of it. I hope the horses that run in the IL Derby end up being the best of the crop and trounce any horses that run in the KY Derby. Down with CD!
jttf More than 1 year ago
its too bad they couldnt offer a $1.5 million purse for the illinois derby. then they could run it on april 28 and take 3 or 4 starters from both the derby trial and kentucky derby races. make CDI pay.
Dean More than 1 year ago
Switch Arlington and Hawthorne Management and you would see a Huge improvement in quality of the Arlington racing, wagering card and customer satisfaction . Hawthorne continues to have full fields in winter months while Arlington has small fields and beautiful weather and facility. Hawthorne with its crappy location still caters to the gambler with decent rebates and promotions...Arlington does nothing. CDI needs to hire some fresh blood and recruit some of the management team from Hawthorne that understand racing and how to improve the product....Keep up the good work Hawthorne!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
750K should be enough to award points next year. But then again, we are talking about CDI. Is there a non-restricted stakes race that has been run more than once that is worth 400K or more that is not graded. Doesn't speak well for the American St. Leger...
Nicolas Ayala More than 1 year ago
It's not eligible to be graded until next year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it just had to be ran once... Is that a new rule?