Arlington Park

Influential Illinois Racing Commissioner Resigns

Commissioner Thomas McCauley, who volunteered his time to play a major role in mediating the recently contentious contract negotiations between Arlington International Racecourse and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA), abruptly resigned from the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) "effective immediately" on Sep. 4. No reason was cited for McCauley's sudden departure, which was announced in an IRB press release late Friday afternoon on the cusp of the Labor Day holiday weekend. McCauley, an attorney who specializes in gaming law and regulatory compliance counsel as a partner at the Chicago-based Nisen...

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Arlington To Allow Limited Spectators

Arlington Park will allow limited spectators to attend live race days beginning Sept. 3 and for the remainder of the COVID-19 abbreviated race meeting, according to a post on the track's website that appeared late Thursday afternoon. Up to 300 patrons will be permitted to watch races on track from a variety of outdoor seating areas with strict safety protocols in place. All racegoers will be required to wear masks at all times, unless consuming food or beverages. No gatherings will be permitted indoors. The only interior areas with public...

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Plans in the Pipeline For Owners And Spectators to Return to Arlington

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...

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CDI Seeks to Sell Arlington Land

The long-term future for Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI) to continue racing in Illinois involves selling its Arlington International Racecourse land for another purpose and transferring the corporation's racing license to another location. Bill Carstanjen, the chief executive officer of CDI, outlined the gaming company's desire to rid itself of Chicago's premier Thoroughbred venue in a July 30 conference call with investors. His comments came six days after Arlington's delayed 2020 season opening (because of the pandemic and a bitter contract dispute with local horse people) and one day before 2021...

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Yet Another Blown Arlington Deadline as Chaos Consumes Last-Ditch Negotiations

For the second consecutive day--and for the fourth time in two weeks--the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) on Friday had to put off voting on the fate of the nearly two-month overdue 2020 season at Arlington International Race Course. That's because the track and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) still can't come to terms on a signed contract for the meet, which is a requirement before the commission can award race dates. What has been a tense negotiating process for the better part of nine months (with four blown IRB-mandated...

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Arlington, ITHA Arrive at IRB Meeting Without Signed Contract

For the third time in two weeks, representatives from Arlington International Racecourse and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) arrived at a crucial Illinois Racing Board (IRB) meeting without a signed contract for the 2020 meet, again putting in jeopardy the already delayed and curtailed summer racing season at suburban Chicago's premier track. Thursday morning's IRB meeting went into recess 43 minutes after it started after both sides stated that they are close, but not in total agreement over a contract that would cover both 2020 and 2021 racing at...

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‘Tentative’ Deal in Works for Arlington Meet

A deal for a 30-date race meet spanning July 23-Sept. 30 at Arlington International Race Course was being finalized on Wednesday with the goal of having a signed contract between the track and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) in place prior to Thursday morning's Illinois Racing Board (IRB) meeting, during which the late and curtailed 2020 season could be approved. On Wednesday afternoon, Arlington issued a notice on Twitter that read, in part, "Arlington and the ITHA have reached a tentative agreement for the 2020 and 2021 race meets....

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John Shirreffs Talks Honor A. P., Zenyatta On TDN Writers’ Room

It's not every year that John Shirreffs, a patient trainer with a small stable of mostly older horses, has a GI Kentucky Derby contender. In fact, the last time most remember him being in the spotlight was with a certain mare named Zenyatta (Street Cry {Ire}), four-time champion and arguably the most popular horse of the 21st century. But with newly-minted Grade I winner Honor A. P. (Honor Code) looking like a leading challenger for the Run for the Roses, Shirreffs joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland Wednesday...

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No Deal for Arlington Meet

Weekend-long contract negotiations that were supposed to result in a last-ditch effort to salvage the 2020 meet at Arlington Park did not result in a deal that was acceptable to both the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) and track management. The chief sticking point, as it has been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is Arlington's insistence on a two-year contract, while the ITHA wants to ink terms for only one year. As a result, the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) on Monday morning declined to vote on awarding race...

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IRB Stunner: No Contract Means No Arlington Dates Decision Yet

In a move that seemed to catch some industry stakeholders off guard Friday, the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) deferred voting on approving a long-awaited plan to belatedly start the 2020 race meet at Arlington International Racecourse, citing the lack of a contract between the track and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (ITHA) as the sole reason. Friday's "special" meeting had been convened primarily for the purpose of getting Arlington back up and running after months of squabbling between the horsemen and the track, plus the COVID-19 pandemic that caused Arlington...

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A Sad State of Affairs at Arlington

The Week in Review, by Bill Finley Arlington Park announced last week that the 2020 meet has been canceled at least through July 5, which hardly came as a surprise. No one was expecting the track to open any time soon. The bigger question for now is: will Arlington ever race again? When Arlington reopened in 1989 after the grandstand was destroyed by a fire, it seemed positioned to be among the most successful tracks in the country for decades to come. Richard Duchossois built a fabulous, grandiose racetrack, one...

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Arlington Extends Live Racing Closure

Despite being given the green-light by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to resume racing, albeit without spectators, in the state as early as June 1, Arlington International Racecourse, which had indicated previously it would not resume live racing without spectators (TDN, May 22), Tweeted Wednesday it would remain closed through at least July 4. "In support of, and with respect to the Governor's re-opening plan for businesses that may encourage mass gatherings, and in the interest of public safety, Arlington International Racecourse has made the decision to suspend the opening of...

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