Hawthorne Race Course, Stickney, IL, May, 2002

A magical event occurred while I was away at Great Lakes Downs watching the Kentucky Derby: The Chicago racing season changed over from Sportsman's to Hawthorne.

Blessed relief!

Horses! You can actually see horses! And races! Them too!

Hawthorne program Spring 2002 The food selection and quality may be cruddy compared to what was offered at Sportsman's, and yeah, you don't get a "free" program with your $2 admission, mainly because there is no admission charge at Hawthorne, but those two shortcomings of Hawthorne are more than offset by the fact that in two seconds you can be out on the apron watching live horses running on a real racetrack, up close and personal. Or, if it is raining and you don't want to go out there, still see them live through windows that look out on the track, as opposed to windows that look at the back side of an automobile crash wall in the rare places where there are windows at all.

Sure, maybe some members of the Kelly Sampson Fan Club aren't sure that this year's selection of Players' Rewards instant prizes like a clear blue glass piggy bank are really better than last year's useful prizes such as boxes of macaroni and cheese, and sure, all of us miss Infield Fun in the worst way and it don't look like there will be any this year, but ... that's ... okay. Live racing, chumps! Right there in front of your eyes! Just like a real racetrack!

Please Racing Gods: Make this Sportsman's and Hawthorne merger really happen.