Illinois state budget includes additional purse funds for Hawthorne, Fairmount

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 14, 2022

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has announced that its legislative lobbying efforts have resulted in additional purse money for Hawthorne Race Course, which in 2022 will offer two Thoroughbred meets and two Standardbred meets in the wake of the closure of Arlington Park.

The Thoroughbred purse account has received $2,685,621, which over the course of 76 racing programs will average an additional $35,337 per day. Harness racing at Hawthorne received $1,772,414. Fairmount Park, now called FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing, received $1,477,011, the ITHA reported.

Chris Block, the new President of the ITHA, issued a statement to welcome in 2022.

“Thoroughbred racing in Illinois will survive the coming year with a truncated meet at Hawthorne Race Course,” Block said. “The ITHA commends Tim Carey and his management team at Hawthorne for moving forward to develop a racino operation that, once operational, will pay dividends for owners and trainers in the form of higher purses. We look forward to hearing positive news about when construction of Hawthorne’s casino complex, currently paused, will restart.

“But a shorter meet at a single track in Chicagoland will not be sufficient to sustain Illinois Thoroughbred racing over the longer term. A second race track in northeastern Illinois is necessary to substantially expand live racing opportunities and support the livelihoods of our members. Indeed, a second track situated as a racino, exactly as Illinois lawmakers intended with the 2019 gaming expansion law, could support growth of Illinois racing and, at last, help Illinois racing compete with racing in other states.

“The ITHA will remain active at the Capitol. This spring legislative is scheduled to end nearly two months early—a highly compressed legislative calendar that will require for us to remain closely engaged and nimble.”

Carey, the President of Hawthorne, said during an Illinois Racing Board meeting the company planned to lobby for legislation this year that would increase the number of off-track betting outlets permitted for Hawthorne. The IRB in December rejected Arlington’s request to continue operating its OTB network.