Hawthorne Park opened in 1891 with a five-race card including the featured Chicago Derby.
In 1922, the track reopened legally for a 13-day race meeting. In 1923, the meet expanded again to 25 days. By 1927, the racetrack was gaining prominence. The Hawthorne Gold Cup, a major stakes event, was introduced. Turf racing returned to Hawthorne in 1948 with the renovation of the racing strip and the introduction of a six-furlong turf course. In 1959, a new clubhouse was opened with vastly expanded seating to serve the racing needs of the Chicago market. By 1970, harness racing was held at Hawthorne . The track was awarded spring dates and ran a spring, summer and autumn thoroughbred meet and a winter standardbred meet. The track stopped in September for the Arlington Park meet. The track also began to hold occasional Quarter Horse races.
In 1978 a fire destroyed Hawthorne ‘s grandstand. In 1979 the racing is moved to Sportman’s Park. In 1980 the track officially opens for a 72-day thoroughbred meet begin at the end of September. In 1985, Arlington Park burned to the ground and Hawthorne Race Course gained all summer dates except Arlington Million day. In 1986, 1987 and 1988 the track also held these summertime meetings. The track is second tier to Arlington Park , the premier track in Chicago.