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…

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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 and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.


  1. Steve Flowers says

    As far as I’m concerned, the rhinos at CHURCHILL DOWNS RUINED HORSE RACING IN ILLINOIS! When they first took over Arlington, they brought in cheap horses, they had ‘NO INTEREST IN SUPPORTING AP! Their aim was to destroy racing in IL knowing that their investment in AP was not racing, but the elaborate real estate property that was highly valuable, their investment in the real estate was going to bring them millions! AP returned to racing after the disastrous FIRE that brought her down. Mr Duccepois who brought the track back. We fans were there sitting in tents as the track was being rebuilt. AP has a tremendous history going back many, many years, I have gone and beyond my years (86) I CAN REMEMBER, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO SPELL THEIR NAMES! My memories remain with me for all of eternity!

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