by Al Cimaglia
September 21, 2017
What a difference a year can make and the Illinois owners and horsemen involved in the 2017 Night of Champions should concur. In 2016 the purses for stake races at Hawthorne on the Night of Champions totaled $850,000. On this Saturday, the purse totals will soar to $1.38 million, an increase of $530,000.
It was reported here a few weeks ago the average sale price for Illinois yearlings in 2017 doubled from 2016. Afterwards it was brought to my attention the Illinois Department of Agriculture loosened the purse strings and may have contributed to the surge in yearling prices. Some of the earmarked funds for harness racing, approximately $500,000, were recently made available and those dollars found their way into the Night of Champions purse account.
|Race||Conditions||2016 Purse||2017 Purse|
|Fox Valley Flan Championship||2 yo. old fillies trot||$75,000||$135,000|
|Kadabra Championship||2 yr. old colts & geldings trot||$100,000||$115,000|
|Incredible Tillie Championship||2 yr. old fillies pacers||$100,000||$175,000|
|Incredible Finale Championship||2 yr. old colts & geldings pacers||$100,000||$195,000|
|Beulah Dygert Memorial Championship||3 yr. old fillies trot||$75,000||$120,000|
|Erwin Dygert Memorial Championship||3 yr. old colts & geld trot||$75,000||$115,000|
|Plum Peachy Championship||3 yr. old fillies pace||$100,000||$165,000|
|Carey Memorial Championship||3 yr. old colts & gelding pace||$100,000||$180,000|
|Plesac Championship||3 yr. old & up trot||$50,000||$60,000|
|Tony Maurello Championship||3 yr. olds & up pacers||$50,000||$60,000|
|Robert Molaro Championship||3 yr. olds & up F&M pacers||$50,000||$60,000|
There have been telltale signs Illinois harness racing is on the upswing. It's probably time for gloom and apathy to be replaced by optimism of better days to come.
You can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia