Stickney, IL---When Hawthorne began another round of its popular Survivor Contest, 3,557 players were hoping for a chance at a grand prize of $100,000. Realistically, the smaller winning prize of $2,500 seemed like a more likely outcome. Maybe not anymore.

As of Saturday, April 11, there were still 38 contestants all vying for a chance at a life-altering payday, and with only 13 days of racing in the spring meet, hope springs eternal for the remaining players.

Leading the contest through the first 22 programs is a person who has the online name of DanePrescott. The leader has totaled 19 wins and 3 third-place finishes in a dazzling display of handicapping.

Currently in the third position is a much less anonymous name. He is Bill Finley, turf reporter for the N.Y. Times and co-host of Sirius Satellite Radio’s horse racing show, Down the Stretch. Finley’s played our contest before with lesser results, but this expert handicapper—and family—are now starting to think big.

“Hawthorne's Survivor Contest has been a blast,” said Finley. “Whether I win or lose, I am so close to winning $100,000 that my wife is already planning how she's going to spend the money. It's nerve wracking trying to survive every day, but I can't wait for the Hawthorne races to begin to see if I'm going to make it to the next round.”

So how does Hawthorne feel about possibly dishing out such a large sum of money?

“We’re all about big payoffs here at Hawthorne,” said Jim Miller, assistant general manager for the race track. “It’s still not a done deal, but if someone survives to the end, we’ll hand out the check with a big fat smile.”

Rest assured, Hawthorne won’t be smiling alone.