May 20th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

 

Starting Saturday all horsemen taking horses to the paddock will be supplied a vest identifying the number of his horse. Horsemen will pick their vest up in the HBPA office and turn it in at the paddock when the horse goes to the track.

The track will be closed for training next Wednesday the 28th.

May 20th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

May 20, 2014

Dear Friends,

As a longtime advocate for Fairmount Park and policies that promote the track as a premier destination in the region, I wanted to let you know that I recently introduced Amendment #7 to Senate Bill 1739, which would re-insert Fairmount Park into the comprehensive gaming expansion package. As you know, none of the gaming expansion proposals introduced in Springfield this year included gaming positions for Fairmount Park, even though there are provisions for every other race track in the state to take advantage of gaming revenues at their tracks.

Just a few months ago, we worked together to avoid a drastic decrease in racing days by passing advance deposit wagering legislation. That same persistence and willingness to work with folks on both side of the issue will be necessary as we fight for fairness for Fairmount Park.

Fairmount Park has been a tradition and economic engine for our region. I can assure you I will continue to fight for its’ viability.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (618) 416-7407 or RepJayHoffman@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Jay C. Hoffman

State Representative

113th District

 

Conspiracy!

May 10th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks
 

Wild Conspiracy in the lead on the back stretch

But a cloud hangs over the track. A bill has been introduced in the Illinois Legislature that would allow slot machines at horse tracks — something the racing industry has long said it needs — but an amendment has been added to the bill that would exclude Fairmount. Every track in Illinois except Fairmount would get slots.

The amendment was the work of state Rep. Robert Rita. He cited concerns about East St. Louis. He said that East St. Louis is so dependent on revenue from the Casino Queen that any decrease in that revenue would “compromise the safety of the people from East St. Louis.”

Rita is a Democrat from Blue Island. That’s in Cook County. In fact, his district includes parts of the far south side of Chicago. I grew up one block outside of his district. I cannot recall anybody in my old neighborhood ever expressing concern about the people of East St. Louis. For that matter, I doubt if we knew that East St. Louis was in Illinois.

So why would Rita be worried about the well-being of people so far removed from his district? That is grist for conspiracy theorists, but before getting into that, let me give you a little background.

For several years, the Illinois Legislature has been trying to come up with a bill that would expand gaming in Illinois. New casino licenses would be issued. The impetus comes from Chicago. City officials complain they are losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year to casinos across the border in Indiana.

Part of the gaming expansion would allow slot machines at racetracks. Track owners point out that slots are allowed at tracks in Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Arkansas. Industry officials say the machines have breathed new life into the tracks. The slots mean more revenue, which means bigger purses, which means better horses and more racing dates. That means more jobs.

Twice in the last three years, the Illinois Legislature has passed a gaming expansion bill only to have it vetoed by Gov. Pat Quinn, who has expressed concerns mainly about the public ownership of the proposed Chicago mega-casino.

The current bill would authorize five new casinos. In addition to a casino in downtown Chicago, one would be just south of the city — in Rita’s neck of the woods. That brought Rita into the game. I chatted with him a couple of times this past week in an effort to figure this out.

Who stands to gain if the gaming bill doesn’t pass? The current license holders. They’ll have another year without having to share gaming revenue. Also, the casinos in Indiana will be big winners if the bill stalls. Who stands to gain the most if the bill passes? Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The other locations that will get the new casinos, including the southern suburbs. Who’s in charge of putting the bill together? The Illinois Legislature.

No wonder conspiracy theorists are busy. Let’s pretend this is a horse race. Pick the winner yourself.

1. Big-Hearted Pol — No games here. Rita is a rare breed of politician. He truly cares about the people of East St. Louis.

2. Don’t Turn Your Back — Rita is working on behalf of somebody other than his constituents. He hopes to scuttle the bill.

3. Loves a Queen — Rita wants to pass a bill, but he’s working on the side for the Casino Queen. Why not do two things at once?

4. Anybody But You — Rita doesn’t like Fairmount Park. Plain and simple.

5. Cook County Chrome — Rita represents an area that wants a casino, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to get the bill passed. He’s got some colleagues from East St. Louis who could bring the Black Caucus into the fray if he doesn’t get some concessions from Fairmount. That’s why he wants to protect East St. Louis. He says the owner of the track — that would be William Stiritz — is a rich guy who is used to getting his own way. Rita figures the amendment excluding Fairmount is the best way to get the owner’s attention.

That last one sounds like the favorite to me, except that track manager Brian Zander has argued — persuasively, I think — that most of the track’s customers drive past the Casino Queen to get to Fairmount. He doesn’t think the track will be taking much business from the casino. Also, the original bill sent part of the new tax revenue to East St. Louis.

By the way, Rita sent a letter Friday to his “metro East colleagues in the General Assembly.” He said he proposed his amendments to spark debate. He said he’s hoping for a compromise.

The race is on.

​Bill McClellan is a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Read his columns here.

Bill McClellan

Bill McClellan worked as a reporter in Phoenix before coming to the Post-Dispatch in 1980. He was night-police reporter before becoming a columnist in 1983. He also appears on Channel 9′s Donnybrook.

Doctor and Dentist, license office, New H.B.P.A. Lounge

April 25th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks
Just a reminder, we will have a medical clinic with Dr. David Dunn, on Thursday, May 1, 2014. If this goes well, I will schedule him twice a month and pretty much adhere to the schedule that I sent you. We need your help getting the word out to the horseman.  Also, Dr. Connolly (Dentist) will be returning on Monday, initially with an abbreviated schedule.
The license office is open. Schedule is Saturday April 26, Monday through Wednesday April 28 through 30.
The new H.B.P.A. Lounge will open Monday morning April 28th at 6 am.

Roscoe Johnson R.I.P.

April 19th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

We’re sorry to report that long time Fairmount horsemen Roscoe Johnson (Father of our paddock judge and clocker Mark “MJ”) passed away April 17th. Our condolences go out to his family. Arrangements are pending.

First Entry Date For Fairmount

April 8th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Papers must be in office by Tuesday April 22 to get the OE date.

Governor Talks About Gaming Bill

April 8th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Gov. Quinn addresses the media at a Monday news conference announcing $100 million for Illinois roads.

Quinn open on gaming expansion: ‘Could come up this year’

MON, 04/07/2014 – 1:50PM

Gov. Pat Quinn is open to a gaming expansion proposal as long as ethical restrictions were put in place, he said on Monday, adding that work on the issue was headed in the right direction.

“I’ve said this before there are fundamental principles that apply to a casinoin Chicago or elsewhere. You’ve got to have strong ethical standards and they have to be enforced and I think it has to be done by the independent Illinois Gaming Board. I think we should also prohibit casino owners from giving campaign contributions to politicians. I think we’re moving the right direction on that. I also think any of the resources that come from a casino have to go toward important purposes that really matter, they should be fundamental priorities,” Quinn said Monday. “I think that issue could come up this year. I’m always willing to sit down with the City of Chicago or any other people on this issue. But it has to follow these fundamental principles.”

New Track Hours

March 24th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Starting Monday March 31 the track will be open for training from 7 am until 11:30 am. Break time will be at 9 am.

Condition Book #1

March 21st, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

The first condition book is on line at www.ilhbpa.com. Just click on Racing and note the purse increases.

New Track Veterinarian

March 20th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

We are pleased to welcome Doctor Tegan Easton and Doctor Amy Adams to Fairmount Park. They will fill the position of  track Vet. when the 2014 meeting begins. Doctor Easton comes from California with excellent credentials and we are excited to have her with us. Doctor Adams has a current practice and will bring much knowledge and experience to the job. We are thrilled to have them both and look forward to them getting to know all of you.