Thoroughbreds get the prime 2023 racing dates at Hawthorne Race Course under a schedule approved Sept. 22 by the Illinois Racing Board while harness races will run the final three months of the year at the suburban Chicago track.
With the closing of Arlington International Racecourse After the 2021 season, Hawthorne is the only remaining track in the Chicago area. The 2022 schedule had the breeds switching back and forth throughout the year and no Thoroughbred racing during the summer months.
The new arrangement, approved by the horsemen’s organization for both breeds, has live Thoroughbred racing starting March 4 and running through Sept. 4. From March 4 through June 3, racing will be conducted on Saturdays and Sundays. Wednesday racing will be added for the balance of the season.
The IRB also approved 62 programs at downstate FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racingthe former Fairmount Park. That track will run Tuesdays and Saturdays from April 18 through Nov. 18.
Chris Block, president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said he has “some concerns” about having Hawthorne and Fairmount both running on Saturday because of a potential shortage of horses.
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“We’ll have a lot of turf racing (at Hawthorne) and that should help out,” he said.
Fairmount does not have a turf course.
IRB chairman Daniel Beiser called the schedule “not ideal but the best we can hope for under the circumstances” while plans for a new harness track are up in the air.
“This is a team effort, gentlemen. We’re either going to live together or die together,” Beiser said.
Hawthorne president Tim Carey told the board he is pressing forward with plans to build out a casino at Hawthorne with a 14-month construction schedule that would kick in upon final approval by the Illinois Racing Board.
Fairmount’s proposed casino is also on hold and the board asked for a written update on those plans before the start of 2023 racing.