This was it, the last chance to see the worn and tired Hawthorne of legend, before it is transformed into a shiny new casino. For, in 2019, the Illinois Assembly finally passed gambling expansion legislation that will allow casinos at racetracks,
And some other new casinos. And expansion of existing casinos. And sports wagering. On top of the 10 existing casinos and some 35,000 "video poker" teminals in bars and restaurants and truck stops across the state. So you can bet people will be flocking to the new racetrack casinos. But Hawthorne (and Fairmount, but not Arlington) is going ahead full steam and transforming its racetrack facility into a casino, starting this winter. They're even canceling the Spring thoroughbred meet due to the construction ... but somehow managing to host a Spring harness meet during that same construction, so go figure.
So this was it, last time to see the old girl in all her tired and grimy glory.
And it was a usual day at the track. Some of the same guys who have been on grandstand floor since forever were still there. The original Crying Family that used to drive VP KSFD mad is no doubt long grown up and moved on, but there was a Crying Family just the same with the kids running around screaming and falling and crying when they scraped a knee or whatever. Mostly the same trainers. Some new jocks, bit also the old favorites. The usual not-so-great horses, but for some reason this Fall the Hawthorne races have been extremely formful despite the lower class stock, so it was kind of tough to make much money with the low payouts. Beer and food were still reasonably priced, as was admission and program. The bar area they have been building up and expanding the past couple years was looking even better. Kudos. Hope they don't rip that out.
Quiet day, made a little money, had a good time, left. So many great memories. A casino just won't be the same.
More pictures here:
Hawthorne Race Course, Fall, 2019
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Pictures of Hawthorne Race Course, Fall, 2019