By T. D. Thornton
Arlington International Racecourse is awaiting decisions from local and state health officials that would pave the way for spectators to once again be allowed at the races under socially distanced pandemic precautions.
The plan calls for a phased-in approach that would start with horse owners being allowed back to the track, then ramping up attendance to allow 2,000 people into the plant for live racing on the day of the GI Kentucky Derby simulcast.
The Daily Herald of suburban Chicago first broke the story Friday. Arlington has proposed hosting 500 to 800 spectators (ages 18 and up) on other race days through the end of the meet. Advance online registration would be required for designated seating areas along the homestretch. Access to the grandstand would only be permitted to bet and to use rest rooms.
Arlington president Tony Petrillo told the Daily Herald that the track initially was directed to submit spectator plans to the Illinois Department of Agriculture but that management has since been told to pursue approvals through the Village of Arlington Heights, where the track is located. The village, in turn, is working with the county and state.
“It’s nice the way our facility is laid out. People are sitting in pods, basically,” Petrillo told the Daily Herald. “I think [by] the beginning of next week we’ll have some clarity.”