Chicago's landscape wouldn't be complete without the classic Hawthorne Racecourse. Located nearby the Windy City, between Stickney and the Cicero suburb, this family-owned horse racing venue is considered to be one of the top thoroughbred destinations in the USA. It is currently ranked as #8 from a total of 62 thoroughbred racetracks by the Horseplayers Association of North America. It features a 1-mile oval dirt track, as well as a seven-furlong turf.

Its story begins in the last decade of the 1800s when a local Chicago businessman by the name of Edward Corrigan purchased 119 acres of land in the Cicero area. He soon built a grandstand and by 1891 he was able to showcase Hawthorne Race Course to the Illinois audiences with a 5 race card that included the "Chicago Derby". A few years later, new anti-betting legislation forced Hawthorne to close, leading to the racetrack's temporary use as a show-ground for early aviation exhibits.

It finally reopened by 1922 with the support of the Chicago Businessmen Racing Association, which saw a period of prosperity that lasted for several decades. It was during this period that the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap stakes were first introduced. Already by 1936, Hawthorne Race Course began the yearly racing season with its Spring Meet, and it is also responsible for presenting the Daily Double wager type to the unsuspecting Chicago crowds.

A fire destroyed its grandstand during 1978, but it was soon rebuilt and it was able to reopen already by 1980 with a luxurious 72-day thoroughbred meet. Hawthorne has also occasionally accommodated harness racing for standardbred horses, as well as quarter-horse racing.

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Hawthorne Race Course Facts:

  • Racecourse type: American Thoroughbred (dirt & turf)
  • Purse: varies.
  • Venue Capacity: N/A
  • Track length: 1 mile oval dirt track & seven-furlong turf