05/01/2008 12:00AM

Overall handle up at Hawthorne spring meet


Local betting support for Hawthorne Race Course continued to erode, but all-sources average daily handle on Hawthorne races actually increased during the spring meet that ended Monday.

Hawthorne's 37-day spring meeting - excluding one program canceled after being partially completed - saw a sharp 17-percent decline in ontrack handle on Hawthorne's live card. The average daily amount bet this spring dropped to $127,423 from $154,180 last year, a decline at least in part attributable to poor weather. Ontrack bets on live racing are the type of wagers that generate the greatest amount of revenue for tracks and their purse accounts, and Hawthorne's performance in this area has been on a steady slide.

Taking into account all wagering outlets in Illinois, betting on Hawthorne this spring fell 8 percent, but that was offset by out-of-state betting on Hawthorne races. While these are the kind of bets that net the least amount of revenue for tracks and their purse accounts, daily average out-of-state handle was up 5 percent this year, rising from $1,841,866 in 2007 to $1,941,032 this year. The out-of-state bump spurred an increase in all-sources average daily handle this spring, which rose 3 percent, from $2,275,814 in 2007 to $2,339,052.

Frank Kirby won his second straight training title here, outlasting Tom Tomillo by 25-22. Tim Thornton repeated as leading jockey, winning 61 races to second-place Inez Karlsson's 27.

Recapturetheglory, who races Saturday in the Kentucky Derby, won the meet's most important race, the Illinois Derby.