ITHA and Arlington Park Form New Backstretch Council

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Arlington Park have joined to form a new Backstretch Council comprised of people and organizations that will assist in providing services to backstretch residents while having a daily presence at the racetrack.

The announcement was made Wednesday by ITHA president Joe Kasperski and Arlington Park president Cliff Goodrich.

The Council will be comprised of a representative from each of the organizations that currently provide services to backstretch workers - ITHA, Arlington Park, Racetrack Industry Charitable Foundation, and Race Track Chaplaincy of America - as well as backstretch residents, and will also include a Service Providers Advisory Committee.

"The ITHA, along with Arlington Park, the RICF and the RTCA believe it is a necessity to form a cohesive group of providers that have a daily presence on the backstretch, to insure that efforts to improve the quality of life for backstretch workers move forward in a focused manner," said Kasperski.

Arlington's Goodrich said: "Illinois Thoroughbred racetracks are at the forefront of providing important services that improve the quality of life for our backstretch residents. The existing services provided by organizations like the ITHA, RICF and RTCA to our backstretch residents already far surpasses what exists at other racetracks across the country. However, we continue our commitment to work with additional organizations and people to improve life on the backstretch for these workers who are so important to our business."

In addition, a Service Providers Advisory Committee, consisting of a number outside professional organizations that provide specific services to benefit backstretch workers is also a part of the council being formed to recommend and provide additional services and programs for backstretch residents. These organizations potentially will include local hospitals, school districts, universities, and day-care centers.

In January, Arlington Park announced that the track's $4-million construction plans to build two new backstretch family housing facilities, originally scheduled to be completed in two phases over the next 17 months, has been accelerated into a new schedule that calls for both buildings with 96 new living units to be ready for the start of the track's 2005 meet beginning in May if weather permits the construction to adhere to the revised timetable.