04/24/2013 1:18PM

Arlington, Illinois horsemen reach two-year agreement

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Arlington Park and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association announced Wednesday an agreement on a two-year contract setting terms for the 2013 and 2014 race meetings at the suburban Chicago track.

The agreement means Arlington’s 2013 meet starting May 3 should, unlike 2012, begin smoothly. A contractual dispute last year spilled into opening weekend and prompted a de facto horsemen’s boycott of entries. The meet’s first two days, featuring Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby simulcasts, drew extremely short fields.

Neither the ITHA nor Arlington released contractual details, but multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed central sticking points all had been resolved. Language in Arlington’s stall-space application that the ITHA said would lead to the levying of stall rent on horsemen has been removed. Also, a compromise was reached on how much money will be taken from the purse account to fund the ITHA: That amount was about $1.4 million last year, and Arlington was said to have asked for a reduction to $800,000 in 2013 before agreeing to a higher amount. Arlington also agreed to keep open a dirt training track on the northwest corner of its property that many horsemen use an alternative to the Polytrack surface on Arlington’s main track.

Also helping move negotiations forward, multiple sources reported, was an agreement by Illinois state lawmakers to drop a controversial provision from a gaming-expansion bill expected to pass out of a Senate committee and go before the full Senate for a vote in coming weeks. To vocal protests from the ITHA and other Illinois horsemen’s groups, the gaming bill was amended this spring to permit tracks to operate online casinos without using profits to fund purses. The online gaming provision, sources say, is expected to be dropped entirely from the bill.

The agreement has led to two changes to items that had been on the agenda for an April 30 meeting of the Illinois Racing Board: Arlington has dropped its request for permission to “vacate select racing days” at the meet, while the Illinois Racing Board has withdrawn an item requesting discussion of the stall-rent issue.

Poor relations between Arlington and the ITHA leadership, particularly president Mike Campbell, have percolated since August 2011, when the parties disagreed over the allocation of impact-fee funds collected from several Illinois casinos. In recent weeks, the two sides have fired off a flurry of inflammatory press releases as contract negotiations heated up again.

Both Campbell and Arlington general manager Tony Petrillo said they were pleased the agreement spanned two years.

“We’re glad we don’t have to worry about anything next year,” Petrillo said. “We’re just all looking forward to a good, solid agreement. We’re looking forward, not backward.”

◗ Arlington on Wednesday announced they will run seven overnight stakes each worth $65,000 during the 2013 meet. Five of the overnight races are open stakes, while the other two restricted to horses with Illinois owners.

Nathan Bernstein More than 1 year ago
Whew! Elated that the stall rental, etc., controversy has been settled, at least for the next two years. N.B. (owner/breeder)
a m More than 1 year ago
Interesting that a comment I made criticizing Steve Crist and the DRF was flagged for "awaiting moderation". The DRF is such a rag.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Now that AP is going to be the simulcast host instead of Hawthorne, expect the ADW law to pass. Especially after CDI announces that the Illinois Derby 2014 winner earns Derby qualifying points.
a m More than 1 year ago
You're dreaming. The IRB bends over backwards cow-towing to Hawthorne and screwing the "carpet baggers" from CDI/AP. No ADW for the Derby this year. This state will ruin the industry whether they are aware of it or not.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
It would serve Illinois right if all the folks in that fine state close their ADW accounts, if it is possible during the suspension. Anyone who resides there can enlighten us further.
a m More than 1 year ago
I don't get it. What would this do? We can't USE our ADW accounts now. Who would that hurt?
Steve DeCaspers More than 1 year ago
Great question Ronald George. Honestly, DRF and all racing media should be ashamed for not doing better reporting on the fairly ridiculous situation with online wagering in IL. How much handle has been lost due to this restriction? How many dissatisfied customers are there? Why wasn't the bill that was introduced which would have simply extended the permission to June voted on? Most importantly, why did Twin Spires, XpressBet and others continue to take bets on Hawthorne while their customers from IL were being played as pawns in larger IL gaming negotiations? They should have stood up for their customers in IL instead of just throwing up their hands and saying "too bad".
Alex More than 1 year ago
Where was the Racing Board, et. al., when it was clear that the end of the bill was nearing? Why wasn't anyone doing anything then, or why was nobody listening?
a m More than 1 year ago
They did nothing. There was one article in late December in the bloodhorse about the impending end of the legislation. Nothing in any mainstream press that would actually alert people to what was about to happen. The IRB is worthless and only sit around cashing paychecks and doing the bidding of the corrupt politicians in the state-- esp Madigan, who is using ADW as a chip in his bid to get more casinos from the equally crooked Governor.
Ronald George More than 1 year ago
As an Illinois resident, can I PLEASE be allowed to once again wager online? Here's my recent at -the-track horror story: I'm sitting at a table minding my own business when the guy at the table next to me starts cleaning his table with a napkin. I guess he needed some moisture to wipe something off the table, so instead of getting some water for his napkin, he SPITS on the table and casually continues his cleaning! HELP! I want my ADW / online wagering access back! PLEASE!!!
Alex More than 1 year ago
Wow. He surely could've switched tables. No chance the track was even close to full...
a m More than 1 year ago
An everyday occurrence at the OTB's. The only one left in Chicago is the most disgusting establishment filled with people betting their SS and welfare checks on .10 superfectas. Illinois will be lucky to have one racetrack in the Chicago area in 10 years.
Ed Levar More than 1 year ago
What about the ADW block? I want my account back.
Alex More than 1 year ago
Tell your representative! Tell the Racing Board!
a m More than 1 year ago
The racing board is worthless. they have done nothing to solve this issue, just sat back and collected their paychecks-- which come out of ADW fees, BTW. Just brutal.