Arlington International Racecourse and Hawthorne Race Course both applied for fewer racing dates in 2015 than they were awarded this year and the Illinois tracks again are competing for simulcast revenue during dates when there is no live racing in the Chicago area.
Allocation of live racing dates and "dark day" simulcast revenue for the coming year will depend on availability of purse money and horses. Hawthorne on July 31 received approval to curtail its fall meeting because of a shortage of horses based on a purse structure inferior to surrounding states.
Alternate sources of purse money have been propping up racing programs at both tracks for the past three years but will not be available in 2015 unless the Illinois legislature provides some unexpected relief for the industry during its fall session. That would not occur until after racing dates are awarded at the Sept. 30 meeting of the Illinois Racing Board.
Arlington is seeking 79 live programs versus the 89 it was granted in the 2014 IRB dates allocation. The track would run three days per week from April 20 through June 30, four days a week from July 1 through Aug. 31, and three days per week during September.
Hawthorne requested 89 dates, compared with 100 granted for this year. However, since the track has vacated racing on 15 days this fall, citing a shortage of horses, the 89 dates sought for 2015 would be an increase over the number actually run in 2014. Hawthorne would operate Jan. 1-3 and Jan. 30-31, then run two days per week during February, three days a week during March, four days per week from April 1 through April 27, and four days per week during the final three months of 2015.
Arlington, in 2014, asked that its share of the "dark days" revenue be expanded to permit installation of lights for night racing and other improvements. The IRB, however, granted Arlington 90 "dark days" this year and Hawthorne 86.
In its 2015 request, Arlington asked for "dark day" revenue from Jan. 1 through March 15 and Nov. 15 through Dec. 31. The bulk of those days would come at the expense of Hawthorne's live racing program, and a decision will test the IRB's expectations about the future of racing in Illinois.