Was successful Hawthorne meet enough to save racing in Illinois?

Harness racing in Illinois still has a pulse, but unless it gets a much-needed and long-overdue transfusion of slot money via the state’s legislatures, its smaller horse stables will continue to disappear despite a successful, but short, winter meet at Hawthorne Race Course that ended last night (Feb. 6).

It will be another three months before Hawthorne, the only Chicago area track still holding harness races, plays host to another standardbred meet.

The bigger Illinois harness racing stables will scatter to Indiana, Ohio and further east before most, but not all, will return to the Chicago circuit the first week of May. Unfortunately there are many small stables that can’t afford to leave the state for three months.

For them it’ll be a struggle to stay in the business.

“I worry about the small stables like mine,” said trainer Kim Roth who has a half-dozen overnight horses. “Some of us aren’t going to make it. My horses did well at Hawthorne, so I’ll be back for the summer but some others won’t.”