Stickney, Ill.— Opening day, March 6th, 2009, will mark the100th year of family-owned horseracing at Hawthorne Race Course under the proprietorship of the Carey family. The anniversary distinguishes Hawthorne as the oldest continuously family-owned and operated race track in the nation. As the longest running sports venue in Illinois, Hawthorne Race Course has been an integral player in the legendary heritage of Chicago sports entertainment and is proud to kick off a thrilling new season.

Since Thomas Carey first purchased the estate back in 1909, Hawthorne Race Course has been able to revive horseracing in Chicago time and again due to continuously placing fans in the middle of all the fast paced action and pure excitement involved in the sport. According to 4th generation president and general manager of Hawthorne, Tim Carey, they are looking forward to yet another tremendous year of stimulating racing in 2009. “I really believe we’re on the cusp of a terrific season,” said Carey.

The recent spotlight on Hawthorne back in October 2008 as a potential candidate for the 10th Illinois casino license has drawn more Chicagoans to pay closer attention to what is going at the track in the little village of Stickney. More importantly, Hawthorne’s 100th milestone has also attracted the eye of the sports nation with a live ESPN broadcast of opening weekend which begins Friday, March 6th. “As the leader in local sports news and entertainment, we're always looking for ways to further embrace our audience in great environments. When the opportunity presented itself for us to partner with Hawthorne, it was a no brainer,” said Justin Craig, Program Director at ESPN Radio 1000, “Providing our fans great entertainment with the amazing backdrop of Hawthorne ... Now that's a winning combination!”

For fans just discovering the game, horseracing at Hawthorne has become a viable sports entertainment option featuring all inclusive action for a more affordable price than a typical athletic event. To launch the return of racing, the course will offer fans VIP status with a party offer at its exclusive Turf Club on March 7th. “The Turf Club is this classic sports club room but with all the modern luxury of over 50 high-definition flat panel TVs and an indoor terrace overlooking the finish line. It is a great introduction to the excitement of live racing,” Carey said of the panoramic space that overlooks the track from the third floor. The VIP Turf Club Party package, which will also be offered to guests on other key race dates, starts at 12:30 p.m. and includes admission, a program, a 3 ½ hour house bar and a buffet package for $35.00 per person.

Hawthorne Race Course’s 2009 spring meet is also highlighted by the Grade 2 Illinois Derby, which will be held on Saturday, April 4th. The last seven winners of the Illinois Derby have all raced for the roses, and three horses from 2008 went on to Kentucky. “Our racing product is more competitive than it’s been in years,” said Carey. “Longtime horseplayers in the Chicagoland market are rediscovering Hawthorne for live racing as well as simulcast wagering. We were 1 of only 4 tracks nationally to have an increase in our full-card handle last year.”

The spring thoroughbred season runs through April 29th at Hawthorne and features races every Thursday through Monday with first post daily at 1:25 p.m. After 100 years, Hawthorne Race Course promises to remain Chicago’s home to showcasing the very best talent in the historic “sport of kings.” For more information on Hawthorne Race Course visit http://www.hawthorneracecourse.com or call 708-780-3700.