Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Question of the day
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Question of the day

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2019

* Post-Dispatch

As the 94th season at Fairmount Park arrives, track president Brian Zander wants to be confident.

The park, in Collinsville, opens Tuesday at 1 p.m. and will run through Sept. 14 with a Tuesday and Saturday schedule. Zander has no reason to believe that will change.

An unsuccessful battle to bring slot machines and video gaming to Illinois race tracks continues to make the future tenuous. But Zander, who has been on the job since 1986, has been through this for more years than he’d like to remember. […]

Trips to Springfield, Ill., to work on legislative efforts that could boost the track are now routine. Fairmount continues to offer live simulcasts and wagering on races at other tracks to generate more revenue.

And the track will continue to offer the usual promotions that have been successful, with Tuesday “Horse Hookie” and Saturday “Party in the Park.”

“From that standpoint we’re doing great,” Zander said. “But we’re competing with other tracks in other states that have slots and gaming, and we simply lack that in terms of generating money for purses. That’s what horse owners have to be driven toward. We’re running behind and need to catch up.”

* The Question: When was the last time you were at a horse racing track and, if you’ve been to one, how was the experience?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:24 pm:

    Probably 30 years ago when I lived near one. Just doesn’t interest me.

  2. - Northsider - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:25 pm:

    At least 10 years ago, and only because my father-in-law wanted to go to Arlington Park. Horse racing doesn’t interest me at all.

  3. - very old soil - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:27 pm:

    My grandfather took me to Arlington park when I was 12 or so. My pick Sporty McGee finished third. That was in 1961. Obviously very memorable

  4. - SouthernIL - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:28 pm:

    I went to one Horse Hookie Tuesday last summer and it was a surprisingly good time. I was impressed with the size of the crowd for a Tuesday afternoon. It would be interesting to see how video gaming would benefit such tracks.

  5. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:29 pm:

    I used to go to Arlington with a crew of friends a few times a year BC (before children) so that has to be pushing 27 years ago now.

    Magnificent beasties, nice venue (thank you, Illinois taxpayers). I’ll likely go back one of these days and bet small. Train drops you off right there.

    The only negative I had was that I hit pretty good at the window my first time out, so I thought I knew what I was doing. Every subsequent visit proved that I did not.

  6. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    About 8 years ago. I don’t have much interest in driving at least 90 miles to watch the horses and after Illinois decided to cut purses the Grand Circuit horses stopped making their appearances at the State Fair.

  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:34 pm:

    My last visit to Fairmount Park was during one of their special promotional nights about five or six years ago. It was a lot of fun. I should go back.

  8. - Been There - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:36 pm:

    I go 4 to 5 times a year. Use to be more but when Balmoral and Maywood closed that wiped out a lot of night time racing. And of course the fair

  9. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:36 pm:

    When I lived in Downtown Chicago, I’d occasionally go to the State St. OTB. Got tired of people bumming smokes off me at the $2 windows, though.

  10. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    Summer of 1990. Canterbury Downs in Minnesota.

  11. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    Fairmount, Sportsmans, and Hawthorne to see the horses I worked at the owner’s farm race. But that was when I was much younger:) All Illinois bred Thoroughbreds. Best day was when one came in 2nd.

  12. - Flapdoodle - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:41 pm:

    Closest I ever got was as a kid fishing at the Izak Walton in Homewood way back in the . . . let’s never mind when, okay? There was a track nearby (can’t remember its name) and we could hear the loudspeakers. Just hasn’t ever interested me.

  13. - illini - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    I normally take my neighbor to “Horse Hookie” Tuesday at Faimount several times a year. Always a great time. This is actually a fairly inexpensive and enjoyable afternoon.

    Unfortunately, my neighbor always insists on going to the Casino Queen after the racetrack. That is not a big thrill for me, but to each his own.

  14. - Gooner - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    Never, although my family used to own race horses, which they race at a Louisiana track (the family ranch was in Texas).

    Although I loved being around the animals, I never had any great desire to see them race. Instead, I treated them like very large dogs.

  15. - A Jack - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    I visited Arlington in 1988 just before I moved to central Illinois. I enjoyed the races, but didn’t bet since I thought the instructions were confusing. I am not a gambler anyway so adding slots or other games wouldn’t be a draw for me.

  16. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:46 pm:

    –When I lived in Downtown Chicago, I’d occasionally go to the State St. OTB. Got tired of people bumming smokes off me at the $2 windows, though.–

    A buddy of mine ran the bar and grill there for a couple of years, so I used to go and drink draft beer for free.

    They had a jacket and tie requirement to get upstairs. Some wild Salvation Army combos from some of the hang-arounders.

  17. - XonXoff - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:48 pm:

    About 3 years ago, in Iowa. It was enjoyable for something different and we’ll likely go again but haven’t yet. Didn’t bet/lose much, iirc.

  18. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:52 pm:

    I’ve been a very infrequent OTB patron, usually when i have a good tip, which isn’t often. But now I live vicariously through Jimmy Cauley, who married well and has his very own Triple Crown ring. When he picks a horse, I place a bet. So far, so good.

  19. - Excessively Rabid - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:52 pm:

    Went to Arlington in maybe 1976 with some folks from work. We had a great time but I would never go to a track on my own. Went to a dog track in Kenosha (I think) with somebody I was dating in the 90’s and that was fun too. But really, I don’t regard these things as very humane. And I don’t gamble at all; my humble investments require all the nerve I have, which isn’t much.

  20. - Gruntled University Employee - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:52 pm:

    ==When I lived in Downtown Chicago, I’d occasionally go to the State St. OTB. Got tired of people bumming smokes off me at the $2 windows, though. ==

    I didn’t know Obama liked the horses.

  21. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    Went to Kentucky Derby back in 93. Horses were part of the event. Not a good enough time to go back.

  22. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    Last time was Arlington in the late 90’s. It was fun.
    Most memorable - Jimi Hendrix concert at a Florida racetrack (dog track?) in the 1960’s/70’s. Can’t remember which one. He was playing electric guitar in the rain - crazy.

  23. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:58 pm:

    ===Not a good enough time to go back===

    I met Ice T at the Derby. Highlight of my day. But I, like you, haven’t been back.

  24. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 2:59 pm:

    Never. Rather lose my money playing poker…and I haven’t played poker in 10 years.

  25. - SSL - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:02 pm:

    I go to an outing once a year at Arlington with old friends. The number of horses racing in each race has diminished greatly. I would like to see the tracks across the state have gambling priveleges. Not only the slots, but put a sports book in each one. They employ a good number of people, and while not always glamorous work, can we afford to lose those jobs? I don’t think it’s a hard decision.

    Also, Arlington is a great facility. It would be sad to see it fail.

  26. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    ===I used to go to Arlington===

    I went to the Million once. After-race crowd was so large at the Metra station I thought I was gonna get pushed under the train. Had a good time otherwise, but didn’t win much. Got to hang out a bit with Roe Conn. Dude knows how to bet. Or, at least, he did that day.

  27. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    …And I’m pretty sure that concludes all my track stories, other than that time I went to a fundraiser at Balmoral Park and didn’t watch a single race.

  28. - Mr. Smith - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    Haven’t been in a long, long time. Went with my father a few times when I was younger. But while I love horses, horse racing was never the same after Ruffian. Broke my heart.

  29. - Just Me 2 - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    I visited once as a part of a legislative tour about twelve years ago to explain to us the importance of state funding for this “vital” industry. That was my first and only visit.

  30. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:10 pm:

    When I was 17 I went with a few friends to an off-track facility…that visit did not last long.

  31. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:12 pm:

    College boyfriend’s parents had a Derby Box. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the races, but we were sitting in front of Walter Cronkite who was next to ZZ Top.

  32. - Been There - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:12 pm:

    ===There was a track nearby (can’t remember its name===
    Washington Park. Burned down in the 70’s or early 80’s.

  33. - g - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    Went to the last night at Maywood. Brought wife and son. My son met a little girl about his age (4 or 5 yrs old) at time. They played and played, then sat down next to each other at a picnic table to watch the race. Cutest thing ever. Ordered some chocolate pudding, it had mold on it though. Which brings me to the life lesson I learned that night, don’t order the chocolate pudding at a racetrack that is about to close. lol

  34. - BC - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:16 pm:

    I make it to Hawthorne at least once a year. Really see any rail birds younger than me, and I’m 50.

  35. - RWP - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:18 pm:

    - Flapdoodle -

    It was Washington Park. Burned down late 76 early 77. “All At Once” if you know what I mean.


  36. - Benjamin - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:18 pm:

    I went with to Arlington Park with my wife and some friends two years ago. We had a nice enough time, but not nice enough that I wanted to go back. Still, if you avoid the overpriced food and the premium parking and the, uh, gambling, it’s pretty affordable entertainment in nice surroundings.

  37. - BC - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:29 pm:

    * rarely not really

  38. - Minnie Pearl Jam - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:33 pm:

    Go to Arlington every year with my family. The kids love the horses in their colors and silks in the paddock area. The jockeys are friendly too. The Park is generally clean and it’s an affordable Sunday afternoon with the family.

  39. - A guy - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:42 pm:

    Hadn’t been for over 25 years and then last year went for a GOP event, and then a week later for Father’s Day at Arlington. Let others bet for me who weren’t nearly as good at losing my money as I am. Loved being with the kids. The horses were beautiful. The dudes who tarry the horses/riders out (I’m sure there’s really a name for that important job) couldn’t have been nicer bringing the horses over for the grandkids to pet on the nose. Nice time. Haven’t been back since. One of my kids loves the brunch there. Who knew? Apparently a lot of people.

  40. - Amalia - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    2012 for a regular race day and The Million in about 1991. they are beautiful to watch and I don’t bet. I’m conflicted because the care of the horses is in real doubt in my mind. the story about the deaths of multiple horses over some weeks in California at, I believe, Santa Anita has really made me think. I am a very Derby hat kinda gal and those hats are a regular part of my summer gear so that part is fun. But, conflicted. Horses first. all else after.

  41. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    Last weekend at Keeneland. Boutique track in Lexington. Any day at Keeneland is a good day.

  42. - T Brady - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    The race tracks are only part of the horse racing story. A tremendous amount of labor and capital is required to put on the show. The sights, the sounds and even the smells are majestic, fascinating, and unique. Illinois horse racing has fallen on hard times; hopefully better times are “spinning out of the turn.“

  43. - wondering - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    Aurora Downs… $2 won $8….quit while I was ahead…..some year before they closed in 1981.

  44. - Wylie Coyote - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:02 pm:

    Started going to Arlington eons ago. With family living nearby it was a natural preoccupation. My parents and their friends always enjoyed it so much we had my dad’s funeral luncheon there.

    Ditto to Anonymous - Keeneland is a hoot - coats and ties for the men, dresses for the women and a heall of a food and drink spread.

  45. - Woodstock willy - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:14 pm:

    When we ventured to fairmount, used to go to a saloon down the road called ardie and tinys. Classic joint. Keeneland is the place to go for races.

  46. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:29 pm:

    Went to Churchill Downs on a tour through Louisville but no racing was happening.

    Never been to a real horserace before. I went with my folks to a greyhound track in Wisconsin as a kid to teach me gambling was bad or something. But then my parents agreed to put a $1 on my library card number 7-5-3 and it was a winner. so I didn’t learn gambling was bad but I did feel bad seeing how the animals were treated so never felt the urge to go back to a track.

    with video gaming, I can’t imagine tracks will gain a lot of customers adding slots now. man do I hate what this state did with gambling under quinn. put a casino in every small town bar in illinois just to avoid putting one in downtown chicago.

    the only thing I think could get new folks to racetracks is letting them open their own sportsbooks.

  47. - Back to the Future - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 4:41 pm:

    7 to 12 times a year. Enjoy Arlington
    and Hawthorne.

  48. - Big horse - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 5:02 pm:

    Fun place to go.but if the tracks don’t get help from the state in the way of gaming they can not survive.That would mean not only the loss of gaming revenue.But also a big loss in local revenue and job’s.But big losses in the agriculture Dept through out the whole state.Help the tracks help the state.🐴🐴🐴

  49. - Responsa - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 5:13 pm:

    Last time was with Grad school class reunion about 4 years ago. It was a beautiful day at Arlington Park and we had a ball. The lower boxes made it easy to both see and stand around and mix and schmooze in between races.

  50. - RIJ - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 5:20 pm:

    Quad Cities Downs when it still had live harness racing, so… around 1990, I think?

  51. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 7:08 pm:

    In the spring of 2001, I turned around in the parking lot at Arlington Park.

    Haven’t been back since.

    – MrJM

  52. - Generic Drone - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 7:20 pm:

    Been a couple of decades. My dad took me all the time to Cahokia and Fairmont. I learned how to bet, read stats and visited stables.

  53. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 8:56 pm:

    I went to Arlington last summer. It was pretty fun. The drinks at the park weren’t too bad, and I bought a couple beers for the Metra ride out. I budget whatever I feel fine losing, $50 or $100. It’s exciting when you win, although I lose more than I win.

  54. - NomChompsky - Tuesday, Apr 16, 19 @ 9:15 pm:

    I was maybe 8, and wishing my parents had just left me at home.

  55. - Slugger O'Toole - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:13 am:

    I grew up in Arlington Heights and used to skip school to go to the races. Used to be they’d let you in free after the sixth. We had a theory that still works. Find the guy with the ugliest sport coat and get in line behind him. Bet what he bets. We go to Arlington a lot still. Actually a very family friendly place.

  56. - Big Joe - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:23 am:

    I totally agree with Triple Crown on this. I go to Arlington at least 12-15 times a year. Went to the Kentucky Derby last May. The whole scene is beautiful. You don’t need to bet at all to appreciate the great 4 legged athletes. I sure hope that the State finally helps out the horse industry in IL compete with Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota and allows gambling of all types at the tracks. There are thousands of jobs at stake, and a tremendous amount of tax money that we will lose if horse racing is shut down in IL.

  57. - Derby Fever - Tuesday, Apr 23, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    I am 37 and love the track. Horse racing is my favorite sport, ahead of football and baseball. Sadly not many people my age that I know, outside of my wife, would say the same thing. I go to Ellis Park 8-10 times a year and am going to the Oaks next Friday.

TrackBack URI

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Memorial Day roundup
* RHA appears back on track
* More details on that threatening letter
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...










Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller