01/05/2010 12:00AM

Hawthorne meet shows declines


Hawthorne Race Course's fall-winter meet that concluded Saturday was down, but not out.

Daily average all-sources handle declined 7 percent from the 2008-2009 fall-winter meet, falling from $2,768,911 to $2,564,354. Out-of-state handle on Hawthorne races also dropped 7 percent, from a daily average in 2008-2009 of 2,367,873 to $2,207,517 this season. That decline wiped out a 2008-2009 out-of-state gain over the previous fall-winter meet.

Ontrack, average daily handle fell 5 percent, from $117,081 to $111,230. Average daily attendance was down slightly, from 1,360 last year to 1,333 this season.

Hawthorne, in the Chicago suburb of Stickney, had a difficult meet weather-wise. Always subject to snow and cold, the meet was hit by an unusually wet October, and only 39 turf races were conducted this season compared with 52 last year. Even under less-than-ideal conditions, the 63-day meet averaged a robust 8.55 starters per race.

Twenty-year-old Tanner Riggs captured his first riding title. His 59 winners were six more than the total posted by Tim Thornton. Frank Kirby, who operates the largest Hawthorne fall-winter stable, won his ninth Hawthorne training title with 31 winners.

Racing resumes at Hawthorne on Feb. 21.