06/26/2012 3:12PM

Hawthorne schedule approved by state racing board


CHICAGO – The Illinois Racing Board approved a stakes schedule for Hawthorne’s 2012 fall meet during a meeting Tuesday while also briefly addressing that track’s spring-meet centerpiece, the Illinois Derby, which made news when it was excluded from Churchill Downs Inc.’s revamped Kentucky Derby qualifying system.

Hawthorne’s fall-stakes centerpiece, the Grade 2, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup will be contested Oct. 6, 2012, and Hawthorne hosts just one other graded stakes in the fall, the Grade 3 Carey on Oct. 13. But the Illinois Derby’s fate in spring 2013 is of greater immediate concern to Hawthorne, and, evidently, state racing board members. The new Kentucky Derby qualifying system allots the Derby’s maximum 20 berths to horses earning points in designated races, but horses won’t earn any points for placing in the Grade 3, $500,000 Illinois Derby, run one month before the Kentucky Derby. Arlington Park is a Churchill Downs Inc.-owned track and its chairman, Richard Duchossois, the largest Churchill stockholder. Duchossois does not have a formal operational role in the corporation, but several commissioners directed comments toward him and Arlington president Tony Petrillo on Tuesday.

Commissioner Alan Monat called Churchill’s slight of Hawthorne’s race “a terrible oversight and a big mistake,” adding that he hoped Churchill would “revisit” the qualifying system before its implementation.

“It’s our job to enhance Illinois racing,” chairman William Berry said, following similar remarks by Monat and commissioner Angelo Ciambrone. “All these matters are taken into account in coming years.”

In other racing board action:

◗ The board announced its lab would start testing for the painkilling drug dermorphin in coming days. A recently developed test for dermorphin uncovered positives in several states.

◗ Arlington received permission to institute mandatory carryover-pool payouts for its high five (pentafecta) wager before the end of its meet. The bet recently paid more than $1 million, and Arlington now can institute a mandatory payout day if the carryover pool grows similarly large again.