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?”

Yikes.

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.

Attention Horsemen!

February 4th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

Our friend Jim Miller from Hawthorne will be here this coming Monday the 10th to talk with our horsemen about the upcoming Spring meet which starts on February 21st. The meeting will be in the racing office at 11:30 am.

Letter From State Representative Jay Hoffman

February 1st, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

DISTRICT OFFICE:

312 §_ High St. Belleville, IL 62220

(618) 416-7407

(618) 416-7409 FAX

repjayhoffman@gmai1.com

SPRINGFIELD OFFICE:

261-S Stratton Building Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-0104

(217) 782-1333 FAX

JAY C. HOFFMAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE ·113TH DISTRICT


COMMITTEES:

LABOR & COMMERCE CHAIRMAN

APPROPRIATI ONS – PUBLIC SAFETY VICE-CHAIR

JUDICIARY MASS TRANSIT

PUBLIC UTILITIES SUBCOMMITTEE:

JUDICIARY - CIVIL PROCESS AND PROCEDURES – CHAIRMAN

LABOR & COMMERCE – WORKER’S COMPENSATI ON – CHAIRMAN

January 30, 2014

Mr. Lanny Brooks Executive Director Illinois HBPA

Dear Lanny:

Extending ·advance deposit wagering (ADW) in Illinois has been one of my most pressing priorities in Springfield. The livelihood o( Fairmount J>ark, responsible for hu11dreds of jobs and a fundamental component of the regional economy, depends heavily on intemetcbased ADW.

Failure to extend ADW past the.original January 31, 2014 expiration date would have been devastating. The number of annual racing days at Fairmount Park would fall from 52 to a mere 10 days a year. Our region and our workers cannot afford that loss.

That is why I worked tirelessly with representatives from the gaming and racing industries, the Illinois Gaming Board, labor leaders, and my colleagues to negotiate an extension before the January 31″ deadline. After months of negotiation, an agreement was ultimately reached in House Bill  11.

I am happy to report that on Wednesday, the Illinois House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 11 to extend ADW for an additional three years. The governor immediately signed the bill into law, ensuring the security of hundreds oflocal jobs.

Moving forward, I understand the need for predictability in the racing and gaming industry. I will continue to fight for the funding and measures needed to support Fairmount Park and thousands of local workers.

If you have  any questions, please  do not  hesitate  to  contact me  at (618) 416-7407 or RepJayHoffinan@g111ail.com. .                                                                                                    .

Sincerely,  Jay Hoffman

State Representative

It’s Official!!!

January 31st, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

The Illinois Racing Board officially voted unanimously to license the A.D.W. companies for 2014. This means so much to the horsemen at Fairmount Park. In addition to assuring we run a full schedule this year, we can now start thinking about 2015 and 2016 since we won’t have to go through the waiting game due to a sunset of the A.D.W. law.

Now we will concentrate our efforts on passing a gaming bill that includes slots at tracks. By the way, let me vow to all Fairmount horsemen that there will be no gaming bill passed that leaves us out! 

I spoke to Jim Miller today while in Chicago and he will be coming down in a couple of weeks to talk with all horsemen that plan to participate in the Hawthorne Spring meeting.

Big Day For Illinois Horse Racing!

January 30th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

First, thanks to the overwhelming support by Fairmount horsemen, union workers and employees shown at the town hall meeting on Tuesday. Although this wasn’t an official committee hearing, it showed the legislators that the horsemen and workers at Fairmount are here to stay. I spoke with them today and they were all impressed with the turnout.

Great news for all who have horses and work in any capacity at Fairmount and all Illinois horsemen and tracks. We were successful in passing the Advance Deposit Wagering bill today getting 47 yes votes in the Senate (30 needed) and 95 in the House (60 needed). The Governor has already signed the bill into law. Amazing when you think about it. The Senate convened at 11 am this morning, passed the bill and sent it to the House. Following the Governor’s State Of The State speech Speaker Madigan called the bill and it was passed at about 12:52 pm and sent to the Governor. He signed it this afternoon and it became law for the next three years. Now that’s what I call excellent time management. All racing dates will now proceed under scenario one. Congratulations to us all.

Very Important!!!!!

January 25th, 2014 | written by Lanny Brooks

There will be a House hearing on the major gaming bill (slots at tracks) next Tuesday January 28th at 6 pm at the Casino Queen. We need all owners, trainers and others who care about the future of Fairmount Park to be there. There will be a large presence of supporters of the Queen, we need to show the same amount of support for our jobs. People often ask what they can do to help. This is your chance to make a difference.