Arlington meet still in question as contract finalization stalls

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: June 20, 2020

With no signed contract between the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Arlington Park in hand, the Illinois Racing Board June 19 for the second time in two days recessed its meeting to give the parties what could be the last chance for a 2020 race meet at the Arlington Heights racetrack.

IRB member Thomas McCauley, who along with IRB Executive Director Domenic DiCera has participated in the contract negotiations for several weeks, said it had come down to two issues, one of which was disagreement over language related to purse projections for 2021. The track and horsemen’s group had earlier agreed to hammer out a two-year deal.

The IRB, which had met a week earlier to finalize Arlington’s request for a 30-day meet with or without on-track patrons, began its June 19 meeting at 1 p.m. Central time. Almost 15 minutes into the meeting, ITHA Executive Director David McCaffrey said the contract proposal from Arlington arrived via email at 1:08 p.m.

“I don’t know what to say,” McCaffrey said. “We sent our redlined contract to the IRB this morning. It is considered signable (by the ITHA).”

ITHA attorney Kerry Lavelle said he was “taken aback” when the Arlington contract arrived around 1 p.m. because it was “similar but not exactly like” the ITHA document.

Arlington General Manager Tony Petrillo requested the IRB meeting recess for a short time so the ITHA representatives could review the Arlington contract language. Commissioners agreed to recess until 2:30 p.m., but the meeting didn’t resume until 4:54 p.m.

Lavelle then asked the IRB to give the ITHA the weekend to review the submission “line by line” and resume the meeting June 22. The IRB, which earlier had indicated June 19 would be the drop-dead date for action on the 2020 Arlington meet, agreed to the extension.

“We will recess until 9 a.m. Monday to revisit this agenda item,” IRB Chairman Daniel Beiser said. “One way or another we come to a conclusion on this item.”

Along with the Arlington meet request, the IRB also must rule on dark-day host status for simulcasts.