* Hawthorne Race course will be hosting harness racing in 2016. The evening the Thoroughbred meet ends on January 2nd, crews will begin work on converting the Cicero oval to a crushed limestone surface to conduct the harness meet.
Hawthorne’s winter harness meet will begin on Friday, January 8 and feature 10 races per night, five nights per week until February 6. Thoroughbred racing will return on March 11 with an additional summer harness meet on the schedule from May 6 – September 25. The closing of Balmoral and Maywood harness tracks left the Chicagoland area with no harness racing until Hawthorne stepped in to fill the void.
* Minnesota racing lost two beloved longtime industry participants this past week.
Elaine Oliver (75) and Catherine DeCourcy (71) passed away within a week of each other. Owner/breeder DeCourcy’s most famous horse, Coconino Slim, won the Minnesota Classic Championship for three consecutive years and was once named Minnesota horse of the year. Oliver traveled the country with her husband, trainer Doug Oliver, in one of Midwest racing’s most enduring partnerships. Both will be sorely missed in seasons to come by the Canterbury family.
* Hawthorne racing analyst Jim Miller has been doubling as race caller at the Illinois track, subbing for longtime caller Peter Galassi who is taking time off to battle cancer. Here is hoping for a speedy recover and return to the announcer’s booth for Galassi.