10/25/2010 4:17PM

Rise in handle leads to purse increase


STICKNEY, Ill. – Hawthorne already has made good on a promise to boost purses at the 2010 fall meeting if handle figures allow, announcing a purse increase for certain types of races that will kick in Nov. 3. All claiming races will be worth $500 more, while allowance and maiden special weight purses will be raised by $1,000.

Hawthorne, in a press release issued jointly with the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said a 5 percent increase in handle from the fall 2009 meeting has made the modest increase possible. Purse levels, however, remain lower – even with the increase – than has been the case here in recent fall-winter seasons.

An overall purse cut from fall 2009 and $700,000 in stakes cuts were announced about a month before the Hawthorne season even began. The track went into the fall meet with a large purse-account overpayment that it hopes to eliminate before 2011. Handle dropped significantly in 2009 from corresponding dates in 2008.

Rector tops optional claimer feature

With Hawthorne trying to keep purse payments to a minimum this fall, there have been few allowance races so far this meet, but one made it onto Wednesday’s nine-race card – kind of. Race 4 is for second-level allowance horses or $30,000 claimers, and six of the eight horses in the race were entered under the claiming option.

The pick is Rector, whose only win and two best races the last two years have come in dirt routes at Hawthorne. Rector has not started since Aug. 27 at Arlington, but trainer Greg Geier has gotten three October drills into Rector, who should be fit to go 1 1/16 miles Wednesday.