Consolidation came to Illinois racing with a financial question mark on the first day of March as National Jockey Club opened its winter-spring meet at Hawthorne Race Course.
National Jockey Club officials assured the Illinois Racing Board Wednesday that the Sportsman's Park horse racing meet set to begin March 1 is not threatened by financial problems that have closed the organization's Chicago Motor Speedway for the year. In other business, the board began the process of changing some state regulations to facilitate the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Arlington Park this fall.
In 2000, Sportsman's Park suffered from its conversion to a dual-use facility for horse and motor sports racing. With sight lines and other fan amenities compromised, attendance and handle sagged. To address the problems, Sportsman's Park spent several million dollars during the past year to improve its facility, then implemented an extensive fan outreach program to show off the changes.
Ed Duffy, chief operating officer for the National Jockey Club, has decided to relinquish the day-to-day control of operations at Sportsman's Park/Chicago Motor Speedway in order to concentrate on and devote more time to other aspects of the multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility.
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