08/01/2013 7:50AM

Arlington, Hawthorne file 2014 dates requests

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CHICAGO - Applications for 2014 racing dates filed Wednesday by Illinois racetracks with the Illinois Racing Board suggest next year’s Chicago racing schedule will look much like this year’s, and what figures to be more hotly disputed than the actual race days at the board’s annual September dates awards hearing are winter days when there is no Chicago racing.

The board in its 2013 awards shifted more than $1 million in purse-account and track commissions earned from simulcast betting during Chicago’s winter dark period from Arlington, which owned the winter dark days in recent years, to Hawthorne. Arlington strongly contested the change and is sure to fight tooth and nail to regain the winter dark money for 2014.

The 2014 dates applications are similar to those filed last summer for 2013 dates, although Arlington asked for 101 dates in 2014 compared to the 89 racing days for which the track applied this year. Arlington requested racing dates from April 22-Sept. 30 in last year’s application, and applied for April 21-Oct. 7 in 2014. But where Arlington’s 2013 application asked for two dark weeks to start its meet, its 2014 application proposes to begin racing in April.

Hawthorne, as it has done to no avail every year since 2005, applied for a winter-spring meet running through the second week of May. The board for the last eight years has awarded the lucrative early-May Kentucky Oaks and Derby simulcast dates to Arlington, and is likely to do so again for next year. Hawthorne’s 107-program request spans Feb. 14-May 10 in the winter and spring and Oct. 1-Dec. 31 in fall and winter 2014.

Hawthorne applied for 107 racing dates, the same number as it requested for 2013, when the board awarded it 101 racing days.

Fairmount Park in the St. Louis metropolitan area applied for 150 dates. The board awarded Fairmount 69 racing programs in 2013.

The dates-award hearing is scheduled for Sept. 24.