07/30/2001 11:00PM

Illinois 2002 dates familiar

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CHICAGO - A year after Arlington Park altered Chicago's traditional Thoroughbred racing season, there is a new status quo. Dates applications for the 2002 season, released by the Illinois Racing Board late Tuesday afternoon, mirror this year's schedule.

Arlington requested 105 days of racing in 2002, between June 1 and Oct. 28. Hawthorne applied for a split season of 76 days, a spring meet between May 1 and June 15, and a fall meet between Oct. 28 and Dec. 31. Sportsman's Park applied for a March 1 to May 11 meet. The beleaguered Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Ill., requested 150 days of year-round racing for 2002.

The requests match the 2001 season, and the conflicts are minor.

Arlington merged with Churchill Downs late last summer and altered its racing season this year to mesh with Churchill's calendar.

Hawthorne had fought hard during last year's dates awards process to keep the traditional Chicago schedule: Sportsman's in the spring, Arlington in the summer, and Hawthorne in the fall. A split spring-fall meet was imposed upon Hawthorne this year, but the track did well this spring, and apparently is resigned to the current schedule.