A Scratch for Arlington Park Horse Racing Next Year

Track passes on race dates as owner mulls potential sale to Bears

The Bears might end up at Arlington Park, but the ponies won’t be there next year.

As the corporate owner of the historic suburban oval mulls bids from the Chicago Bears and other potential buyers, the deadline passed Friday afternoon for the track to apply with state regulators for a racing license in 2022 — guaranteeing there won’t be horse racing in Arlington Heights next year.

Under state law, tracks have to apply with the Illinois Racing Board by the end of July for specific racing dates the following year. No application was submitted by Arlington International Racecourse, meaning its final race day, Sept. 25, could be its last ever.

Arlington President Tony Petrillo said the inaction was “consistent” with the owner Churchill Downs’ strategy for a track that is at “an economic disadvantage in a hypersensitive market” — but he insisted the company isn’t out of the horse racing game altogether. They’re considering building another race course somewhere else in the state, according to Petrillo, who couldn’t offer any specifics.

“There’s been no decision to abandon thoroughbred racing,” he said.

Either way, there won’t be any racing at Arlington next spring…

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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