08/01/2014 2:42PM

Arlington asks for fewer race days in 2015

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Arlington requested a shortened race meet and three-day racing weeks for much of its 2015 season in its annual racing-dates request filed with the Illinois Racing Board and released Friday.

Arlington is in the midst of an 89-day meet racing four days per week this summer, but requested only 79 days of racing for 2015, and wants to run just three days per week – Friday through Sunday – from April 20 through June 30 and during the entire month of September. Arlington requested four-day weeks, Thursday through Sunday, during July and August.

Arlington’s 2014 dates request was for 101 days of live racing, meaning the track has asked for 22 fewer days next year. Hawthorne, meanwhile, requested only 89 dates in 2014 after applying for 107 live dates in 2014 and receiving 100 dates.

On Thursday, the IRB granted a Hawthorne request to vacate 13 racing days during its fall-winter meet this year. The track cited concerns over field size in asking for the reduction, but problems with maintaining an adequate purse structure also are a factor.

Purses at Illinois tracks have been boosted for three years by impact fees garnished from the highest-earning casinos in Illinois, compensation for legislative changes favorable to the casino industry and deleterious to racing that were agreed to years ago by racing interests. But the impact fees will run out before 2015, and purse money at Hawthorne and Arlington will be generated only through betting handle, which has been in steady decline on this circuit.

Arlington also asked to be the so-called dark-host track between Nov. 15 and March 15, dates that overlap Hawthorne’s live racing dates requests for both spring and fall meets, and a move that will trigger strong resistance from Hawthorne. The host track during the winter dark period in Illinois earns the lion’s share of takeout from out-of-state simulcasts that’s split between track operators and purse accounts. Arlington’s request for dark-host status in the fall suggests it will attempt to persuade the IRB to curtail Hawthorne’s racing season.

Fairmount Park in southern Illinois requested 150 racing days between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. The track will actually race far fewer days than that between late spring and early autumn, but Fairmount traditionally requests a huge slate of days while working with local horsemen to determine what sort of meet the small venue’s financial structure can actually support.

The IRB’s annual dates awards hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30.

Jim Coughlin 9 months ago
Arlington Park needs to work together with all racing interests in Illinois, including fans. A world class facilty should operate as a leader and innovator. The syn surface was an attempt but never caught on with top barns. Racing fields filled with low level claimers don't attract avid players. Admission and concession prices are too steep for the average fan and there's liitle to draw crowds without healdiner concerts, special events and guest appearances.
Cold 9 months ago
they need to focus on quality of racing and treating there regulars and VIP players better...All they care about is how many boxes of $6 popcorn they can sell....Terrible management all round!!!
GQ 9 months ago
They need to get rid of the rubber track and they can move forward. Until then I don't care when they run. Close it up. GQ
Bugsy Anderson 9 months ago
Top 5 in terms of breakdowns. Keep the rubber and adapt. Its not about your handicapping ability, its about the horses
soroka 9 months ago
The Churchill curse is growing
Walter 9 months ago
What a pure greed move by AP. They are asking to be dark host while Haw is running?? The audacity of that? CDI is really a bad, bad, organization.
mikey 9 months ago
This place is in a free fall.