Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (2/27/16)
ITHA Commencing Contract Negotiations with Arlington Park
Statement from Mike Campbell, President, Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association
Dear Fellow Horsemen:
The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association looks forward to working with Arlington Park to reach a 2016 contract that is fair and equitable for both Illinois horsemen and Arlington. I appreciate that our respective organizations have had past challenges in reconciling competing points of view, but I trust we can overcome those differences to serve and protect the best interests of our industry.
As you may know, the ITHA Board of Directors has hired David McCaffrey as Executive Director. Among his first assignments is the task of coordinating and directing contract negotiations with Arlington for the 2016 season. David has urged Arlington to join the ITHA in pursuing prompt agreement on the contract for this year as a demonstration of our joint commitment to supporting the upcoming meet, and we are encouraged by Arlington’s response.
Owners and trainers soon will be making their destination decisions for this year; swift finalization of our contract will project mutual confidence in the quality of this meet and will significantly aid our collective efforts to boost field size and fill races. Additionally, when our 2016 contract is resolved, we have urged Arlington to collaborate with the ITHA on efforts to promote this year’s racing season.
Every day, the horsemen that we represent, together with backstretch workers and thousands of other workers whose livelihoods we support, do all that we can to help our state’s industry stay as active and competitive as possible. We want horsemen to stay and race in Illinois – not continue their exodus to other states with more robust racing circuits.
The sooner our contract negotiations are behind us, the sooner our industry can refocus attention on winning passage of the agreed gaming legislation that will, finally, position Illinois horse racing to more adequately compete with racing in other states already permitting their tracks to supplement purses with slot revenue. The spring legislative session is underway and unity across our industry – among tracks, horsemen and breeders – has never been so vital.
We respectfully submit that the greatest battle our industry must fight is not internal – between tracks and horsemen – but in Springfield, where we must continue educating policymakers about the critical need to approve this agreed legislation to preserve and ultimately grow Illinois horse racing – for the benefit of tracks, horsemen, the many jobs we support, and the taxpayers of Illinois.
As the opening words of the Illinois Horse Racing Act make clear, horse racing “is intended to benefit the people of the State of Illinois by assisting economic development and promoting Illinois tourism.” When the gaming bill is approved and signed into law, our entire industry wins. Horsemen will be at the forefront of our collective effort for passage. We have invited Arlington to partner with us in this pursuit and put its full might behind securing a legislative victory.
The leadership of the ITHA respects Arlington and its tremendous accomplishments. We recognize that in his decades at the helm of Arlington, Mr. D has taken extraordinary steps to promote Illinois Thoroughbred horse racing to the world. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with Mr. D and Arlington's executive team to advance our common objectives. We can and should work together to help Illinois Thoroughbred horse racing achieve its full potential.
President, Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association
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