Authorities say future of Illinois horse racing is uncertain | Illinois


(The Center Square) – The horse racing industry in Illinois took another blow when, after 100 years, Arlington Park International Racecourse closed.

That leaves just two horse racing facilities in the state, Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney and another facility in Collinsville.

A Senate gaming committee met on Thursday to discuss plans for the industry’s future.

Hawthorne Racecourse has been given all of Chicago’s race dates, so it will feature both thoroughbred and harness racing, which Senator Bill Cunningham called less than ideal.

“This makes it very difficult for both races due to the limited number of race dates and calls into question how long is it sustainable for races in the Chicago area to operate with a single track,” Cunningham said. .

Tim Carey, president of Hawthorne Race Course, told the committee that the track will need to be replaced between seasons to accommodate different racing styles.

“It will be far from ideal, but we are doing it as part of an agreement and cooperation with the riders, because we believe that the future of thoroughbred and harness racing is important for the Illinois, ”said Carey.

FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing in Collinsville, formerly Fairmount Park, will also offer other race dates. The facility will accommodate 61 thoroughbred dates in 2022, an increase from 53 this year.

A horse racing group showed interest in the Arlington Heights facility, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Chicago Bears have signed a $ 197 million purchase agreement for the racetrack land, taking the next step in a possible transfer from Soldier Field.

Construction began in 1927 in Arlington Heights for the racetrack. The property was destroyed by fire in 1987 and underwent a $ 400 million renovation shortly thereafter.

Other Illinois racetracks have also seen their demise. Balmoral Park in Crete hosted its last harness race in 2015 before the property went bankrupt. The field has been transformed into a show jumping facility.

Maywood Park was located in Melrose Park, approximately 12 miles from downtown Chicago. The harness racing track was built in 1946 but closed in 2015. The property now houses an Amazon distribution center.

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