* I didn’t get to this earlier in the week, but let’s try now. Amanda Vinicky…
Illinois’ racing board is taking a gamble in an attempt to save the beleaguered industry. Two historic Illinois tracks will hold no races next year, a decision that could lead to their permanent closure.
The decision by Illinois’ 11-member racing board was unanimous: no horses will run at Balmoral and Maywood parks in 2016.
“We can’t sit out a year and survive; we’ll have to default on our lease and that’ll be the end of it,” said Duke Johnston, a partial owner of the tracks. […]
The board has given it and the Hawthorne park all Chicago-area races. The idea is that consolidating races - and therefore expenses and prizes - will make the remaining tracks more competitive.
“It raises purses at both entities, which will attract more horses, which will result in larger field size, which results in more wagering which results in more purses. It’s circular,” Arlington racecourse General Manager Tony Petrillo said.
After unsuccessfully fighting to eliminate Hawthorne’s spring thoroughbred meeting for the last four years Arlington International Racecourse formed an alliance with its former adversary and the tracks made a joint presentation.
Hawthorne agreed to give Arlington a portion of the host track money it receives from out-of-state simulcasts to use to significantly bolster purses at its summer thoroughbred meeting. In return, Arlington supported Hawthorne’s requests for the two harness meetings and its usual spring and fall thoroughbred meetings.
The tracks also have promised to promote one another.
Arlington wins again.