Industry Letter To Rep. Rita

March 20th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

The Honorable Bob Rita

State Representative

March 20, 2014

281-S Stratton Office Building Springfield, IL 62706

Dear Representative Rita,

As you know, for several years the Illinois Horse Racing Industry has advocated for passage of legislation to authorize electronic gaming at racetracks, which would put our state on par with neighboring horse racing states and help ensure the long-term survival of our industry and its many jobs.  That carefully negotiated, agreed legislation reflects a balancing of interests among all segments of the industry.  HB744, SB1849, and most recently SB1739 have provided for gaming at racetracks (1200 positions for Cook County tracks and 900 for downstate tracks) that would enable tracks to make an investment of capital to generate gaming revenue to support the horse racing industry through enhanced purses.  Almost 3,000 new gaming jobs will be created at these racetracks, plus approximately 1,000 temporary construction jobs to build facilities to conduct electronic gaming.  The racetracks are projected to generate almost $100 million annually in taxes, plus over $400 million in licensing fees to the state. Most importantly, many thousands of agri-business jobs (and their associated taxes and economic activity) will be preserved.

The fact sheet accompanying your recent press release indicated you planned to introduce two separate amendments to SB1739.  The first would not include any measures to assist horse racing and would provide for a Chicago casino only.  The Horse Racing Industry would oppose that amendment, as it would only exacerbate the disadvantage horse racing currently has in the Illinois gaming market.  The second amendment cuts in half the amount of gaming positions allocated for racetracks and eliminates positions at Fairmount Park.  The Horse Racing Industry also opposes this amendment.  In addition to effectively eliminating the Horse Racing Industry in Southern Illinois, the decrease in gaming positions will not enable Illinois racing to be competitive with racing in other states that allow gaming at their tracks. We implore you to restore the gaming positions at racetracks to the numbers that were proposed in the earlier bills, to maximize state revenues and job creation.

We respectfully ask that you reconsider this matter and retain the negotiated, industry-agreed language dealing with electronic gaming at tracks.

With greatest respect,

 Dave McCaffrey
Illinois Harness
Horsemen Association

Mike Campbell
Illinois Thoroughbred
Horsemen’s Association

Gene Allen
Illinois Quarter Horse

Lanny Brooks Illinois Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association

Tony Petrillo
Arlington International

Brian Zander
Fairmount Park Racecourse

Tim Carey Hawthorne Racecourse

John Johnston
Balmoral Park Racecourse

William “Duke” Johnston
Maywood Park Racecourse


Atttention Fairmount Horsemen

March 14th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

I’ve just been notified by the Executive Director of the R.I.C.F. that a new doctor will be in place in the next couple of weeks. I’ll post details as they become available as to the exact date, hours etc.

Something to watch out for!

March 13th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Louisiana Bills to Reduce Dates, Slots Money
by Blood-Horse Staff 
Date Posted: 3/11/2014 11:19:31 AM
Last Updated: 3/12/2014 3:09:47 PM

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association has issued a call for its members to contact their legislators and voice opposition to several bills filed during the session that began March 10.

According to a post on the organization’s website, the most extensive changes to current laws are contained in House Bill 550, introduced by Rep. Henry Burns, that lowers the number of race days at Louisiana Downs from the required minimum of 80 days to a minimum of 30.

HB 550 also proposes reductions in net slot machine awards to purses from the current 15% to 8% and from 3% to 1% for breeders’ awards. Burns’ bill also calls for the elimination of Quarter Horse racing and breeders’ awards proceeds at Louisiana Downs.

House Bill 493, introduced by Rep. Joe Harrison, calls for proceeds of slot machines, video poker, and other types of gaming to be redirected to the Bet on Louisiana’s Future Fund, thus eliminating any proceeds going to purses at the track or breeders’ awards.

According to the LTBA, House Bill 714, also introduced by Harrison, is much like HB 493 but shows where the monies are to be divided and calls for the elimination of the video poker purse fund, purse supplements, and payments to the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

“We believe that these proposed bills need our immediate attention and must be defeated. It is estimated that the fiscal impact the Louisiana horse industry has on the state’s economy is over $2 billion dollars,” the LTBA said. “Taking monies away and changing programs only dilutes the program. Louisiana is ranked near the top of the breeding industry. Please contact your representative and senator and ask them to not jeopardize the success the Thoroughbred industry is currently having and to keep the current legislation in place.”


2014 Condition Books

March 11th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

The first condition is on the H.B.P.A. web-site.

Changes in Training and Purses for this Year

March 5th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

First, Starting this Monday the 10th we begin our FREE training period. The track will be open Monday through Saturday. The track will be open this Sunday as well.

Bottom Purse increase! This season the field size bonus will be increased on all bottom level purses. Details: The bottom purse amount of $5000 will be affected in the following way. In all eight horse fields or bigger that carry a base purse of $5000, the new purse will be raised to $6000. We’re able to do this because of money saved from the way we allocated our Stakes money this year and because of the three year plan we agreed to two years ago when we received the impact fee money.

Were very glad to not only maintain our purse level from last year, but actually raise the field size bonus on bottom level purses.


Horsemen’s Lounge under construction

March 1st, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Glad to report that the old track kitchen is being transformed into a lounge for our horsemen. So far it will feature a place to gather with ample seating, T.V.s to watch the races, new bathrooms and a betting facility. Other things such as food are being discussed as well. We will keep you posted with details such as an opening day and hours of operation as they become available.

Harness update has meaning for us all

February 26th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

The following is the latest update from  IHHA President Dave McCaffery. Please read it very carefully because it applies to our situation as well. I’ve said all along, it’s simple math. Good luck to our harness friends.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Contract update.

Every day the IHHA office and I receive scores of emails, texts, and phone calls.  The vast majority of them are supportive, some offer suggestions, and some just leave me shaking my head.  One such email came in this afternoon and I want to share it with all of you. 

Because I want to protect the identity of the sender, I won’t give the name.  The email read (in part):

“Why don’t we just sign a two year contract that keeps the purses like they were the last few years?”


I want to use tonight’s update to give some unfortunate facts about the long-term situation of Illinois harness racing.  Maybe it’s a failure on my part to educate the membership, maybe it’s a failure on the membership’s part to accept what I’m about to say, or maybe it’s somewhere in between.   Regardless, here’s an attempt to convey the sad facts. 

Illinois harness racing is in huge trouble!  So much, in fact, that our situation is comparable to being given the diagnosis of a terminal illness.  Consider Johnny Johnston’s testimony at last week’s IRB meeting when he said of Illinois harness racing, “We’re dealing with end of life issues here.”

The only antidote to our illness is some kind of legislative help from Springfield (slots, impact fee, etc.)  And the only good news is that we have $5.5 million in our purse account.  If we don’t get the cure, we’re left to decide two things: how long do we want to live? (somewhere between 7 and 22 months) and what do we want our quality of life to be between now and the end (big purse cuts and a longer life or no purse cuts and a shorter life). 

Obviously, these are big issues which is why we haven’t yet signed a contract.  The racetracks want us to “live” longer and continue to provide them product to sell through cutting purses aggressively and continually by insisting on a two year contract; the IHHA believes we should go out with dignity, by keeping purses at a respectable level for as long as possible albeit shorter than two years. 

So, there you have it; if you didn’t know how bad our situation is before, I hope you all get it now.  And, finally, I hope that answers my friend’s email question. 

 Dave McCaffery

Attention Horsemen!

February 13th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Stall applications for the 2014 Fairmount meet are available in the H.B.P.A. office and the Racing office. They are due in by March 1.

Update on Doctor Mayberry’s Arrangements

February 10th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Doctor Kathy Mayberry died on February 5th and has been cremated. She was 64 years old and a close friend to many horsemen at Fairmount Park.

A memorial service will be organized by her friends at Fairmount and the date will be announced as soon as plans are final. Kathy, may you rest in peace.

Dr. Kathy Mayberry R.I.P.

February 6th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

On behalf of all horsemen, the H.B.P.A. sends its heartfelt sympathies to the family and close friends of Doc Mayberry. Kathy served the horsemen at Fairmount Park for many years. She would not hesitate to come to the aid of an animal in need anytime of the night or day. When we came up short of vets during the meet, Kathy filled the position of two which allowed us to run. She will be missed by many and remembered for her passion for the animals.