Arlington's 2002 Dates Expanded for Possible Breeders' Cup

The Illinois Racing Board has awarded Arlington Park a 109-date racing season for 2002 that will start the week of the Belmont Stakes and culminate with the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships -- possibly at Arlington.

Wednesday's dates allocation also benefited Sportsman's Park, which got back Kentucky Derby Day as the final day of a 46-program season opening March 1. Sportsman's also was named host simulcast track for the Chicago-area dark days from Jan. 2 through Feb. 28.

Hawthorne Race Course, which ran during all three Triple Crown races this year, retains the Preakness Stakes during a May 5-June 4 spring meeting, then concludes the year with Thoroughbred dates from Nov. 1 through New Year's Eve for a total of 66 dates.

Hawthorne, however, also was granted some of the summertime harness dates it sought unsuccessfully for the past two years. Hawthorne will run 37 harness programs from June 7 through July 13. The track gave up harness four years ago to take over all Chicago-area Thoroughbred racing while Arlington was closed and Sportsman's was building its auto track.

All other harness racing in 2002 will alternate between Maywood Park and Balmoral Park.

"Arlington Park will continue in its role to be the catalyst for the Illinois racing industry," said President Steve Sexton. "In that endeavor, we will continue our efforts to bring racing's biggest day, the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, to Arlington Park next year."

Breeders' Cup Ltd. has indicated it wants to run the 2002 WTC races at Arlington. Details, however, remain to be worked out.

National Jockey Club President Charles W. Bidwill III said the allocation of dates, including Derby Day, to Sportsman's show that improvements made at the track last year "were not in vain." But he also indicated he has heard the IRB's continued urging that Sportsman's and Hawthorne find some way to end their rivalry for racing dates.

"I heard the message loud and clear that if Sportsman's Park and Hawthorne are to move forward, it is important that we work together. If we don't, both tracks will lose," he said.

In downstate, Fairmount Park sought and was granted 110 programs, to be raced from April 12 through Oct. 19.

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