Exciting Rule Change

February 3rd, 2015 | written by Lanny Brooks

Uncoupled Entries
All entries, either same owner or different owner, shall be uncoupled wagering interests in any race. Same owner entries will have least preference in overfilled races. The date system will take preference in determining first and second parts of entries.

In my opinion this is long overdue. This will increase field size and which will increase handle and get us to the field size bonus more often.

This rule will be in effect on February 20th.


New Training Schedule

January 28th, 2015 | written by Lanny Brooks

Starting next Monday Feb. 2nd the track will be open six days a week with the starting gate open as well. Hours will continue to be determined by weather conditions.

Highlights Of January IRB Meeting

January 28th, 2015 | written by Lanny Brooks


.Here are two results from the IRB  January meeting in Chicago yesterday that I thought I’d highlight. Recapture speaks for itself, but the first item in my view is long overdue. It will allow same owner entries to be treated as separate betting interest. With a shortage of horses this will help increase field size, handle and increase the chance at Fairmount of running for the field size bonus.

The Board approved Arlington Park’s request to initiate rulemaking to amend Board rule
1413.114 (Coupled as Entry). The amendment shall uncouple same owner entries in any
thoroughbred race.

The Board approved by a vote of 7 to 0, the certification of the following purse recapture
amounts and payment schedules:

Arlington Park – $4,242,698 payable on a prorated daily basis;
Hawthorne Race Course – $2,598,999 payable on a prorated daily basis;
Fairmount Park Thoroughbred – $1,774,120 payable on a prorated daily basis;
Fairmount Park Colt Fund – $48,414 payable on a prorated daily basis;
Balmoral Park – $2,085,075 payable November 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015; and
Maywood Park – $2,858,804 payable November 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015

Stall Applications Due

January 26th, 2015 | written by Lanny Brooks

Just a reminder that stall applications are due in by tomorrow Tuesday the 27th.

No training tomorrow

January 26th, 2015 | written by Lanny Brooks

Due to ongoing track repairs the track will be closed until further notice.

Attention Horsemen!!!

January 25th, 2015 | written by Lanny Brooks

Due to a broken pipe on the Clubhouse turn, the track will be closed for training tomorrow (Monday). We will make up the missed day later in the week.

New Gaming Package On The Way

January 20th, 2015 | written by Lanny Brooks

Gambling backers renew casino push despite declines

  • The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin saw revenue drop 11.6 percent last year as lawmakers prepare to move forward with a push for new Illinois casinos this year.

     The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin saw revenue drop 11.6 percent last year as lawmakers prepare to move forward with a push for new Illinois casinos this year.
    Daily Herald File Photo

By Erin Hegarty

Backers of more gambling in Illinois are getting ready to introduce legislation that would create five new casinos and allow slot machines at horse racing tracks like Arlington International, similar to previous bills.

Lawmakers want to build off previous efforts, this time under new Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, and a plan could emerge in the next few weeks, state Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat, said.

Recently, proposals have sought to add 1,200 slot machines to Arlington and construct new casinos in Lake County, Chicago, Rockford, Danville and the south suburbs. State Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat who has championed the legislation recently, agrees a new plan is coming soon.

“I think he understands that there’s the need for finances in the state, so this is an opportunity to get things moving in the right direction,” Link said of Rauner.

But Illinois has faced financial hardship for a while now, and gambling has not emerged as a savior. Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed two proposals during his tenure, and lawmakers were either unwilling or unable to send him gambling legislation he liked.

“Gambling expansion would just sift people from one place to another and would not increase revenue,” said Illinois Casino Gaming Association Executive Director Tom Swoik.

Illinois casinos brought in $86.7 million less in 2014 than they did in 2013, and overall casino admissions were down 1.4 million over the same time, statistics from the Illinois Gaming Board show.

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines was the only Illinois casino to see an increase in revenue in 2014. Rivers brought in over $425 million in 2014, $6.5 million more than 2013. While the casino’s revenue was up, admissions were down 5.3 percent.

Elgin’s Grand Victoria saw the largest revenue loss among suburban casinos. The riverboat casino took in $171.8 million in 2014, an 11.6 percent drop from 2013. Admissions at Grand Victoria also dropped 14.8 percent from 2013 to 2014. Aurora’s Hollywood Casino saw a 12.7 percent decline in admissions, and Joliet’s Hollywood Casino an 11.3 percent drop.

Meanwhile, horse racing fans have hoped for slot machines for years as their industry faces decline.

While Arlington International Racecourse Chairman Dick Duchossois is listed as a top donor to Rauner’s inauguration and transition team committees, Arlington spokesman Thom Serafin says they, like many others, are unsure of what Rauner will do with gambling.

“We are anxiously observing from the sidelines,” Serafin said.

Link has talked to Rauner about gambling expansion, and the governor has remained open to the idea. This year could be different, Link says, as gambling expansion faced stiff competition with statewide elections and other pressing issues last year.

“We got tied up with elections. We got tied up with the former governor’s feelings on it, so we’re starting fresh with a new governor,” Link said.

Stephanie Slinger

January 2nd, 2015 | written by Lanny Brooks

Stephanie Slinger, a popular rider at Hawthorne Race Course was taken to Loyola Medical Center complaining of rib and back pain following an incident in Thursday’s fifth race. Stephanie’s mount, Try a Lemon Drop, stumbled leaving the gate and Stephanie was thrown to the ground where she was stepped on by Try a Lemon Drop. Try a Lemon Drop appeared to have no ill effects. Updates on Slinger will be forthcoming as they are released. UPDATE: It appears that Stephanie Slinger is only bruised. No broken bones were detected. – See more at: http://www.barntowire.com/2015/HAWnotes150101.html#sthash.p8VnyONH.dpuf

Training Schedule Beginning January 5th.

December 23rd, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

When we return to on track training Monday January 5th, the days will be Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Four days a week until February 9th which is six weeks from the beginning of the meet. Starting February 9th we will train six days a week.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your H.B.P.A.

December 17th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Lawsuit leaves horse tracks facing bankruptcy, attorney says

Legacy of Rod Blagojevich corruption haunts two Illinois horse tracks, which face bankruptcy following $78 mil

Facing a $78 million lawsuit judgment for involvement in an extortion scandal involving former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois’ only two pari-mutuel standardbred tracks are prepared to file for bankruptcy to continue operations in 2015, their attorney told the Illinois Racing Board on Tuesday

The judgment, handed down last week by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, ordered Balmoral Racing Club and Maywood Park Trotting Association to pay a total of $77.8 million to four of the state’s riverboat casinos—Empress Casino in Joliet, Harrah’s Casino in Joliet, Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and Hollywood Casino in Aurora.

In addition, in reversing a district court decision in August, the court ordered Balmoral president/Maywood vice-president John Johnston to pay the casinos $1 million each in punitive damages.

The ruling stems from a federal racketeering suit that claims that Johnston acquiesced to Blagojevich’s request for a $100,000 campaign contribution in return for signing 2008 legislation to benefit Balmoral, Maywood and the state’s three thoroughbred tracks, Arlington International Racecourse, Hawthorne Race Course and Balmoral Park.

However, the contribution was never made.

The bill that Blagojevich signed extended a 3 percent adjusted gross revenue impact fee that was assessed against the four casinos, which were the most profitable in the state at the time, to compensate the state’s racetracks for the financial losses they incurred when the casinos were permitted dockside gaming in 1999. The impact fee was levied in 2006 but expired in 2008.

Attorney William McKenna, who is representing the Johnston family — the principal owner of Balmoral and Maywood — told the Racing Board that his clients intend to appeal the case but in the meantime they have an automatic 14-day stay of judgment during which time they will attempt to settle with the four casinos.

If they fail to come to terms on a settlement, Balmoral Racing Club and Maywood Park Trotting Association will file for bankruptcy, most likely on Christmas eve, to protect against property seizure and disruption in daily operations, McKenna said.

“The focus through the next series of months and probably throughout the year will be to see if a settlement can be reached with the plaintiffs and, if not, what will be the plan of reorganizations,” McKenna testified.

Neil Milbert is a freelance writer