Illinois has its 2013 racing calendar set after a somewhat contentious meeting Tuesday which ended up lasting most of the day.
The item that brought most of the debate was the allocation of ‘dark day' revenue; how the revenue would be divided between Arlington Park and Hawthorne in the weeks when there is no live racing in the state. Illinois Racing Board chairman William Berry originally proposed Arlington get the ‘dark day' revenue from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31, and Hawthorne from Feb. 1 to Feb. 14. That motion failed on a 4-4 tie vote.
Commissioner Kathy Byrne then introduced a motion which moved five more days from Arlington to Hawthorne. The Board made it clear that Hawthorne would receive these additional ‘dark days' as compensation for the Illinois Derby being passed over by Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby qualifying list. That motion carried on a 6-2 vote.
The Illinois Derby was also the subject of quite a bit of debate. Hawthorne President Tim Carey told the Board that he is prepared to ‘make a significant investment to preserve the status of the Illinois Derby as a prestigious race, even though it won't be a Kentucky Derby qualifier.'
Carey did not blame Arlington for the exclusion of the Illinois Derby from the qualifying list. Instead, he pointed the finger at Churchill Downs. “They're a conglomerate and they have to answer to their shareholders,” he said. “The problems it causes for Illinois racing is not their concern. They're concerned with profits for their shareholders.”
The live racing calendar for the two Chicago-area tracks look similar to the current schedule; Hawthorne had originally asked for an additional week, to run from Feb. 15 through May 4, which was denied. Hawthorne will run from mid-February through the end of April, and again Oct. 1 through the end of the year. Arlington will open May 1 and run through the end of September.
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