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

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…

Can a Hawthorne ‘Racino’ Keep Horse Racing Alive in Chicago?

My first day at Arlington Park was one of the most momentous of my life.

It was July 1, 1996. My father’s wife was in town for a conference, and he needed to kill an afternoon. He suggested the track.

Even before we walked inside, I was awed by Arlington. From Northwest Highway, the grandstand resembled a splendid resort hotel. Its roof, a cowl painted the green of ancient copper, floated above the summer trees. Outside the gate, a garden spelled out A-R-L-I-N-G-T-O-N in red begonias.

Inside, the very worst thing that can happen to a novice gambler happened to me: I won a lot of money…

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 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.

Will Racing Return to Balmoral Park?

“It’s one of the most unique properties in Chicagoland, and it deserves to be put back into action,” Goldberg said. “Our plans include making it a premier sports and entertainment venue that Chicagoland and the south suburbs deserve.”

Goldberg’s group signed a contract to buy Balmoral for an undisclosed price from HITS Inc., the New York-based company that has hosted show horse productions at the track the last few years.

All the new owners need now is for state lawmakers to amend the Illinois’ massive gambling expansion law to allow for racing in Crete Township. But threading that legislative needle will be no small feat, as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot can attest.

And representatives for the horsemen who would work at the harness track — who pushed to include it in the new gaming law — are skeptical about the dark horse Balmoral bid.

“There’s a shroud of mystery that’s concerning,” Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association executive director Tony Somone said. “Who is Phil Goldberg? He’s not a racetrack person, not a gaming person. We’d like to work together with this group, but we don’t really know who we’re dealing with.”

Horse racing season begins with new push for slots at tracks

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (AP) – Another season of thoroughbred racing is beginning at Fairmount Park in southwestern Illinois, where racetrack officials hope a change in the governor’s office may bring an expansion of gambling. Fairmount opens its 90th season Tuesday. Fairmount Park President Brian Zander tells the Belleville News-Democrat (http://bit.ly/1CiOUKy ) that adding slot machines at horse…