Friday March 27
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order issued to combat the coronavirus outbreak has hammered many trades, but none more than the equine industry. From racetracks to trail rides, many who make a living through horses have seen their incomes dry up almost entirely. ... “As this goes on, two weeks, three weeks, we could be OK,” said Tony Somone of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association. “But as it hits four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, we’re going to see some horsemen struggle to feed themselves and feed their horses.” Should it come to that, some will have to sell their horses in a glutted marketplace, though Hansen said the destination of last resort isn’t the proverbial glue factory — it’s Amish country, where families use harness horses to pull buggies.
Thursday March 26
As legalized ways of gambling have almost come to a stop, horse racing remains the only sport still open for business. Despite that unique position, it hasn’t led to a surge in popularity or revenue to the few tracks still operating. ... Santa Anita gets about a third of its pari-mutuel business either on-track or through state inter-track wagering, sometimes called OTBs. However, the lack of other tracks running or no team sports to bet has shifted only about 10% to 20% of new revenue back to the mutuel handle.
Tuesday March 24
In the wake of a Broward County ban on conducting non-essential business amid the coronavirus pandemic, and a subsequent request to close by the city of Hallandale Beach, Fla., Gulfstream Park plans to race on. ... “They need to stop the racing,” Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana told the Sun-Sentinel. “We can’t just bend to their will just because they say they’re going to sue us or [take] whatever legal action. They’re a powerful entity, but we can’t just allow that to go on. They’re blatantly violating the Broward County order."
Tuesday March 24
Fonner Park scores a million dollar day, but they’re not trotting to the winner’s circle just yet. ... CEO Chris Kotulak said, “We had an all-time record handle at Fonner Park of more than $1.3 million. That should sound like fantastic news, but I've never been more melancholy in explaining the all-time record is not a big deal.” That’s because most of those wagers came from out of state, and Kotulak explains Fonner Park only gets three percent of the cut.
Tuesday March 24
Churchill Downs has delayed reopening stables at its track and training center until April 14 because of public health concerns related to the coronavirus. A decision on postponing the scheduled April 25 spring meet opening will be made closer to that date
Friday March 20
Arlington Park has advised the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association that due to the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, the track does not expect to open the backstretch as scheduled on Friday, April 10. It is not clear when the backstretch will open; thoroughbred owners and trainers are urged to plan accordingly.
Tuesday March 17
The state of Illinois recently launched its legal sports betting industry, but there were some pretty strict restrictions in place. With only a select amount of betting licenses available to racetracks and casinos, the competition was high. Companies like FanDuel and DraftKings were expected to be shut out of the process, but it appears that FanDuel has found a way to get around these restrictions. Multiple sources have confirmed that FanDuel is looking into buying Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Ill.
Monday March 02
Among those arrested was one Fabio Arguello.
According to WDRB, "In court Monday, three of the men were ordered to have no contact with minors. Arguello's attorney argued that he is a mentor at the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs, and asked the judge to allow Arguello to continue to have supervised contact with minors. The judge turned down that request. The executive director of the learning center quickly released a statement Monday morning saying in part that Arguello's alleged actions "violate the values, ethics, and mission of the Backside Learning Center."
Thursday February 27
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday forced out three members of the Illinois Racing Board for allegedly making illegal political contributions, leaving the state’s horse racing regulatory agency in flux as the struggling industry jockeys to get back on track with help from a massive gambling expansion. The abrupt resignations of Racing Board Chairman Jeffrey Brincat and commissioners Edgar Ramirez and Gregory Sronce were the result of apparent violations of a new provision included in the gaming package signed into law by Pritzker last summer, which bars board members from giving money to politicians.
Monday February 24
Churchill Downs plans to spend $150 million, including the purchase price, on renovations at Turfway Park, and demolition of the northern Kentucky track will begin soon. The grandstands will be torn down and rebuilt. The only things that will stay the same are the paddock and the jockey’s facilities. Construction should be finished by summer 2021, but the track will be ready for the next meet in December.
Thursday February 20
The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is urging its members to consider out-of-state alternatives to Arlington International Racecourse for racing this year. The organization said in a website posting Feb. 19 it "encourages horsemen to submit applications for 2020 stall space at Arlington Park. But Illinois owners and trainers also are urged to consider an alternative plan for racing this summer."
Wednesday February 19
Fonner Park in Grand Island, Neb., opens for a 31-date meet on Friday. The season will run through May 2.