The End of Arlington Park Racecourse…For Now

RLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) — As thousands of horse racing fans head home from Arlington Park Saturday night, some might have a touch more cash in their pockets, while others might not be so lucky.

Regardless, everyone at the track on the picturesque fall day does share something in common. They were there when the sun set on Arlington Park.

Arlington Park racetrack“It’s a sad thing for Arlington Heights, for sure,” said longtime fan Diane Scrowka.

For nearly a century — since 1927 — people have flocked to the suburban race track, creating years of memories.

“I saw Secretariat race here years and years ago,” said Susan Rusco. “Lots of good times, a lots of family times.”

It’s a place that may take you back in time.

“It’s kind of a pillar of the past. You can dress up and live like you’re in another time,” said Lauren Dietzel.

However, people come to the races for that and more.

Arlington’s owners said that the gambling market has shrunk over time as casinos landed in the Chicago area.

“When horse racing was the only game in town, everybody betted on horse racing,” said Tony Petrillo, president of Arlington International Racecourse…  More on Arlington Park

The Demise of Arlington Park?

His name was Richard L. Duchossois, the same man honored today by the final running of a race that can no longer vaunt a seven-figure purse and instead patches up its dignity as the Mister D. Stakes.   An apt tribute, undoubtedly, to a remarkable man closing on his 100th birthday: one of the last of the great generation raised in the Depression, their endurance tested and deepened further yet as the vigor and dreams of their prime were diverted, and often fatally consumed, by war.

Mister D. himself shared a vivid recollection of lying on a stretcher in Normandy, one of the dying among the dead. To the overwhelmed medics, these two categories had to be treated as one and the same. They had separated only those who stood some kind of chance. And the 22-year-old Duchossois couldn’t argue with their verdict. He was paralyzed from the neck down. After days and nights of combat without respite, sedated, absolved of responsibility, he began to yield to a great weariness. Dimly he heard a shout: “That one over there, you better bring him along.” It was only when he felt the stretcher being raised that he realized who “that one” was.

By a no less tenuous thread of fortune, it turned out that the bullet had not severed his spinal cord. The nerves were only in shock. Lying in a Paris hospital, booked for a passage home, Duchossois could think only of the unfinished battle. If anything, the British pilot in the next bed was a still harder case. He had lost a leg, but between them they got hold of… read the rest about Arlington Park:

This Side Up: A Million Memories, From Heaven to Hell

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…

Illinois Probe into Churchill Downs and Anti-Trust Actions

The association representing horse owners and trainers at Arlington Park has called on the Illinois attorney general to launch an antitrust investigation into track owner Churchill Downs Inc.

The request stems from the Louisville, Kentucky-based corporation’s August 2019 decision to forgo slots and table games at Arlington Park, five months after it acquired a majority stake in nearby Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.

“Churchill executives evidently engaged in a campaign to block current and future gaming scenarios at Arlington while telegraphing messages to deflect public attention from its actual intent: shielding Rivers from a major gaming competitor in close proximity,” Campbell wrote in his April 29 letter to Antitrust Bureau Chief Blake Harrop. “Whether Churchill’s steps rose to the level of illegal anticompetitive behavior, we respectfully submit, is worthy of your review.”

The five-page letter also was forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice…  continue reading

Can horse racing at Arlington be saved? Jockey Chris Emigh hopes so

Arlington Park racetrackAlthough it doesn’t appear likely, veteran jockey Chris Emigh is holding out hope that Arlington Park’s parent company can reach an agreement with someone to save horse racing at the famed site [in Chicago, Illinois].

If Arlington closes, Cicero’s Hawthorne Race Course will be left as the Chicago area’s last horse track — and it doesn’t run enough races to support all the jockeys in the area, Emigh said, not to mention the many other racetrack employees who will be left out of work if Arlington shutters.

Since track owner Churchill Downs Inc. put the historic site up for sale in February, many jockeys and other workers have moved to other states, chasing bigger purses and employment opportunities, Emigh said. He doesn’t want to join them.

“This is my home,” said Emigh, 50, who lives near Marengo. “I’m toward the end of my career. Nobody wants to start over in another state or area.”

Emigh has been a jockey since 1989, not long after graduating high school. He started racing in Louisiana but came to the Chicago area in 1996 when it had four tracks: Arlington, Hawthorne, Maywood Park and Cicero’s Sportsman’s Park.

Sportsman’s closed in 2003 and Maywood in 2015. Both have been demolished…

Churchill Doesn’t Want Las Vegas Horseplayers Having This

Las Vegas sportsbook contestThe [Nevada Pari-Mutuel] association broke a long silence Wednesday with a statement that for the first time spelled out its version of the dispute, which has been dragging on since Oct. 27, 2019, and has prevented Nevada residents and visitors from betting on any tracks owned or represented by the company. That list includes Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, Arlington Park, Louisiana Downs and other venues.

“The Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association (NPMA) is working extremely hard to reach agreements with all racetracks to ensure that all our customers have access to simulcast and the pari-mutuel pools,” the association’s executive director, Patty Jones, said in the statement. “We regularly reach agreements with a large majority of tracks with terms that allow our racebook members to offer their customers the amenities they expect, including discounted past performances, comfortable places to sit and watch multiple races, complimentary drinks and club memberships with benefits.

“However, certain tracks, including those controlled by Churchill Downs (which also negotiates on behalf of Oaklawn Park), have demanded rates to get simulcasts and pari-mutuel wagering that impact the ability of our racebook members to provide these amenities and remain profitable. The member books are unwilling to change the Nevada business model because it impacts their customers and impacts the books’ ability to be profitable and remain open through their most challenging year.”

Churchill Downs to Sell Beautiful Arlington Park in Chicago

Churchill Downs Inc. to sell historic Arlington International RacecourseLOUISVILLE, Ky., Feb. 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI” or “Company”) (Nasdaq: CHDN) announced that the Company has launched a process to sell the 326 acres in Arlington Heights, Illinois that are currently the home of Arlington International Racecourse (“Arlington”). CBRE will bring the redevelopment opportunity to market on behalf of CDI.

The Company is committed to running Arlington’s 2021 race dates from April 30 – September 25. The Company does not expect any sale of the Arlington site to close prior to the conclusion of Arlington’s 2021 race meet or that the conduct of the sale process will impact Arlington’s racing operations this year.

“Arlington’s ideal location in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, together with direct access to downtown Chicago via an on-site Metra rail station, presents a unique redevelopment opportunity. We expect to see robust interest in the site and look forward to working with potential buyers, in collaboration with the Village of Arlington Heights, to transition this storied location to its next phase,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “In the meantime, we are very committed to pursuing the relocation of Arlington’s racing license to another community in the Chicagoland area or elsewhere in the state. We are exploring potential options with the State and other constituents and remain optimistic that we can find solutions that work for the State, local communities and the thousands of Illinoisans who make their living directly or indirectly from thoroughbred horse racing. We are committed to the Illinois thoroughbred racing industry and will consider all options in working toward opportunities for it to continue into the future.”

About Churchill Downs Incorporated

 

Churchill Downs Incorporated is an industry-leading racing, online wagering and gaming entertainment company anchored by our iconic flagship event, the Kentucky Derby. We own and operate three pari-mutuel gaming entertainment venues with approximately 3,050 historical racing machines in Kentucky. We also own and operate TwinSpires, one of the largest and most profitable online wagering platforms for horse racing, sports and iGaming in the U.S. and we have seven retail sportsbooks. We are also a leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming in eight states with approximately 11,000 slot machines and video lottery terminals and 200 table games. Additional information about CDI can be found online at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.

Arlington Park’s Biggest Race May Feature Divisidero

Trainer Kelly Rubley is considering a return to Arlington International Racecourse in the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million on Aug. 11 for Gunpowder Farms’ Grade III Arlington Handicap winner Divisidero. Rubley, who has conditioned the 6-year-old since he transferred to her barn last winter, earned her first graded stakes victory with his win Saturday.

“We wouldn’t rule it out,” said Rubley. “I think he’s continued to show improvement this year.”

Divisidero contributed to a banner day for his sire, whose progeny Roaring Lion took the Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park in England just hours prior. Kitten’s Joy stands at Hill ‘N’ Dale Stud for $60,000.

The Arlington Handicap was Divisidero’s first win since last May and his fifth stakes victory. As a 3-year-old he racked up a pair of wins in Churchill Downs’ Grade II American Turf and the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park. The following year, he took the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, which he would go on to win for the second year in a row during his 5-year-old campaign.

Arlington Park racetrackArlington Handicap second-place finisher Revved Up will go through the ring in Fasig-Tipton’s Summer Selects Horses of Racing Age Sale, where he will be consigned by Claiborne Farm and is listed as Hip 504.

Meanwhile, trainer Mike Stidham is not likely to point two-time graded stakes winner Synchrony to the Million after he finished third as the beaten favorite in the Arlington Handicap.

“We were testing the waters by adding some distance,” Stidham said. “Immediately after the race my first impression was that the added distance didn’t help. At this point we’ll see how he comes out of the race, but for us to think about the Million, we probably needed to do a little bit better.”

Fans can expect to see Grade III Modesty Handicap winner Daddys Lil Darling return for the Grade I $600,000 Beverly D., according to Normandy Farm owner Nancy Polk who also bred the daughter of Scat Daddy.

“It’s a thrill,” said Polk. “From the time she was a little to when she was grown up she was special. We wanted to keep her bloodline going from her mother (Miss Hot Salsa) so we decided to keep her and race her.

“I couldn’t be happier. She’s done everything right and she’s done everything that we ask of her. Besides that, she’s a nice horse. She is a pleasure to own. It’s a chance of a lifetime and I’m loving every minute of it.”

The Modesty Handicap was a first victory on the year for Daddys Lil Darling, whose last win prior to Saturday took place in the Grade I American Oaks at Santa Anita on December 30. Trained by Kenny McPeek, she also secured stakes victories in Churchill Downs’ Grade II Pocahontas Stakes as a juvenile and the Dueling Grounds Oaks at Kentucky Downs last September.

Daddys Lil Darling is a half-sister to Mongolian Saturday, winner of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2015. With a victory in the Modesty Handicap, Daddys Lil Darling put her sire Scat Daddy atop the standings of graded stakes winning sires of 2018. He has now sired nine graded stakes winners this year.

Darrell and Sadie Brommer’s Prado’s Sweet Ride finished second in the Modesty Handicap for the second year in a row. Trainer Chris Block is considering running the 6-year-old Illinois-bred daughter of Fort Prado in the Beverly D. She finished tenth in last year’s edition.

“As I told the owners last night, it certainly warrants thinking about it,” Block said of a possible start in the Beverly D. “She ran the very same kind of race last year against Dona Bruja who was in fine form, and obviously Daddys Lil Darling is in fine form right now. I told them that we would analyze it once we get an idea of what horses may be coming and if it’s not extremely deep then maybe we would take a shot at it.”

A four-time stakes winner, Prado’s Sweet Ride captured the Grade III Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs as a 3-year-old and also won Canterbury Park’s Minnesota H.B.P.A. Distaff Stakes in 2016, the New Orleans Ladies Overnight Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots last April and took the Illini Princess Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course on Nov. 4.

Source: Arlington Park

Divisidero was a recent AGOS Horses to Watch

Industry Profile: Jockey Harry Hernandez

It’s been a competitive jockey colony at Arlington International Racecourse so far this meet due to the addition of a few new faces in the jocks room. One of those is Harry Hernandez, who has enjoyed a solid beginning of the 2018 meet with six victories in 29 mounts.

Hernandez, 21, is currently tied for fourth in the standings with Sophie Doyle, who also is riding her first full season at the Chicagoland oval. He has finished in the money at a rate of 48%.

“I’m really excited and I’m really focused on my job,” Hernandez said. “Just trying to stay focused on winning races. I thank God and thank my agent [Ben Allen] and the owners for the opportunities that they have been giving me. I’m just trying to show off my experience.

Hernandez began his riding career in his native Puerto Rico and attended the Escuela Vocacional Hipica, graduating in the same class as leading riders Jose Ortiz, Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Eric Cancel.

Arlington Park racetrack“That school is such a nice school,” Hernandez said. “Before you graduate they make sure that you’re a hard worker and that you’re professional and respectful. Most importantly, they make sure you’re watching your weight because that’s the most important. They teach you how to gallop, teach you how to position. It’s awesome.”

Upon moving to the United States, Hernandez began riding at Finger Lakes in New York where he was consistently finishing in the top of the jockey standings.

“When I graduated I wanted to start riding in Puerto Rico since that’s where I’m from and that’s where my family is from,” Hernandez said. “But I always have wanted to come to the United States. This is where the good money is, it’s where the good owners and trainers are and you’ll learn more riding with good jockeys. This is where you learn more. I always wanted to ride in the United States and make a name for myself here.”

Check out other AGOS Jockey Profiles

It was good friend and accomplished rider Jose Ortiz, however, that gave him some encouragement to give Arlington a try this summer.

“I want to thank God for giving me these opportunities with the trainers and the owners,” Hernandez said. “My family always have supported me. I want to thank my really good friends, especially Jose Ortiz. He was the one who called me up and said ‘Hey, [Ben Allen] is a good agent’. He told me to go try it out.”

Source: Press Release

AGOS Claimer of the Week: Arlington Park runner

Horse Racing Claimer of the Week at AGameofSkill.com Making an impact in Chicago

Lasting Impact stalked the early leaders before drawing clear in upper stretch and went on the win the second race at Arlington Park by 4 lengths last Friday.  Lasting Impact has been named the agameofskill.com Claimer of the Week. The gelding defeated $10,000 claimers and covered the One Mile on a fast main track in 1:39.77. He returned $6.20 to his supporters. The son of Broken Vow scored his sixth career victory with Mitchell Murrill in the irons. The 6 year old is owned and trained by Hugh Robertson and has finished in the money (top three finishers) in 18 of 43 lifetime races. Lasting Impact has now earned approximately $160,000 in his career.