ITHA, CDI at impasse on Arlington purses as deadline approaches

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Dec. 29, 2019

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association notified its membership that, with just two days before a Dec. 31 deadline, it still has no finalized contract with Churchill Downs Inc. in regard to the funding of overnight purses for the 2020 Arlington Park meet.

The ITHA said contract negotiations “remain stalled,” and that state statute requires the contract to be signed before the beginning of each calendar year.

The Illinois Racing Board earlier in 2019 granted Arlington’s request for 2020 racing dates even though CDI opted not to apply for a casino license for Arlington by a statutory deadline. The ITHA and others vehemently objected to the decision given the horseracing industry’s many years of lobbying for racetrack gaming and the resulting revenue that would go to purses.

Hawthorne Race Course did apply for and was a granted a casino license, but because of planned construction will not hold a winter/spring Thoroughbred meet in 2020. Arlington is scheduled to begin its meet in early May.

The ITHA noted that the contract impasse centers on how overnight purses will be funded at Arlington.

“We will continue to work toward a contract with Arlington Park but, at the time of this update, no contract has been signed,” the ITHA said in a statement. “We will keep you informed as the process unfolds.”

(Arlington Park photo courtesy of Coady Photography)