|Illinois Racing Board
Tracks work together on dates
Arlington Park and Hawthorne National submitted agreed upon dates to the Illinois Racing Board today. This is the first time in at least 20 years that the Thoroughbred tracks have come to an agreement on dates before the dates hearing.
Arlington will run from May 14, the Friday before the Preakness Stakes, through September 19. Arlington will also be the simulcast host track for the balance of January and February.
Hawthorne National (Sportsman's) will become host track on Wednesday, February 25 and run through May 13. During March the track will run four days, switching to a regular five-day schedule in April.
Hawthorne will become the simulcast host track on September 20, after Arlington closes, and run through the end of the year. Most of the meet will be five days per week, but in December it will change to four days, with Wednesday an additional dark day. Hawthorne will also finish off the 2003 meet with racing on January 1, 2 and 3 in 2004.
Hawthorne will again host harness racing as Suburban Downs, from July 15 to September 7, for 55 days (up from 49 in 2003).
Arlington will run for 96 days in 2004, down from 104 this year. Arlington will pick up most of the host dates in January and February in exchange for giving up live days.
Sportsman's at Hawthorne will run 47 days in 2004, down from 48 this year. Hawthorne will run 69 days, gaining one day over this year's 68. Should more money become available for purses, Hawthorne National can request to run the scheduled dark Wednesdays in March and/or December.
Fairmount Park in southern Illinois will run April 30 through November 27, with a four-day per week schedule.
Maywood and Balmoral will split the rest of the harness year between them.
The board approved the schedule by a 6 to 5 vote.
During the dates presentation the board also discussed the short fields at Arlington. Possible solutions are raising purses, scheduling more grass races, and better coordination with other tracks' schedules.