Illinois awards 2021 racing dates; new medication rules take effect Oct. 1

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Sept. 16, 2020

The Illinois Racing Board Sept. 16 approved a 10-month 2021 racing calendar for Arlington Park and Hawthorne Race Course that was put together through an agreement between the two tracks.

Hawthorne was granted 50 racing dates from March 6-April 25 and Oct. 1-Dec. 31. Racing will be held Saturday and Sunday during the winter/spring meet; Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October and November; and Saturday and Sunday in December.

Track management requested that Sunday replace Thursday in the fall in order to accommodate ongoing construction of a casino and sports book, and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association agreed. ITHA officials said they expect a contract with Hawthorne for 2021 to be signed soon.

Arlington was granted 68 racing programs from April 30-Sept. 25. In April and May, racing will be held Friday and Saturday, with Thursday added in June. From July 1-Aug. 4, there will be racing four days a week (Thursday through Sunday), and from Aug. 15-31 on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule. In September, racing will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Arlington was awarded 220 host simulcast days and Hawthorne 145. Under an agreement, however, Arlington will share 50% of its dark host revenue with Hawthorne for a couple of months early in the year.

Fairmount Park was awarded 53 racing days from April 27-Sept. 6 with racing Tuesday and Saturday from April 27-May 31 and Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for the remainder of the meet.

The ITHA, which represents horsemen at Arlington and Hawthorne, said it appreciated that Arlington and Hawthorne worked together to fashion the 2021 calendar. But ITHA officials expressed concern over previous comments from Churchill Downs Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bill Carstanjen that it will run the 2021 meet “if we elect to do so.”

“We are certainly concerned about that statement that there is a 2021 contract but we may or may not run,” ITHA President Mike Campbell said. “There seems to be a disconnect here we are greatly concerned about.”

Arlington President Tony Petrillo said the track intends to race in 2021, and that there is ongoing dialogue about racing beyond 2021. CDI has said options include selling the property and moving the racing license or remaining at Arlington if there are changing circumstances, particularly a lower casino tax rate. Arlington did not apply for a casino license.

“The sale of the property is not definitive,” Petrillo said. ” A number of different options are being explored.”

ITHA Executive Director David McCaffrey asked the IRB to put a condition in the 2021 dates order that would make Arlington forfeit about $4.5 million in “recapture” funds should it not run the 2021 meet. Petrillo called it “unprecedented,” but McCaffrey not there is precedent for such a condition.

The IRB took no action but indicated it would revisit the issue in January.

Meanwhile, changes in medication rules for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and steroids will take effect Oct. 1. (An advisory and the regulations were made available by the ITHA.) The regulations are similar to those adopted in the Mid-Atlantic region and other jurisdiction in the United States.