Officials from Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (ITHA) will meet this week, probably starting on Wednesday. The two parties are expected to reach an agreement on the fixed reward that the ITHA will receive during the 2020 racing season at Arlington International Racecourse.
The discussions are expected to continue for more than a week after the two parties failed to reach an agreement in the mandated timeline. The two sides have differences on the issue of funding of the 68 race days at Arlington. According to ITHA, CDI is offering $130,000, while the horsemen’s association is seeking $200,000.
According to Illinois Racing Board (IRB) President, Mike Campbell, Churchill Down can subsidize the difference by offering casino gaming at the race track or through other means. Meanwhile, the horsemen have seen Churchill Downs exit race tracks in other states such as Florida in the former Calder Racecourse.
If the two parties don’t reach an agreement, then the horsemen will have to reconsider racing elsewhere in the late spring and summer — Arlington racing season scheduled to take place between May and September. Racing can’t take place without a contract, and the deal was supposed to ready by 31st December.
Horsemen Feel ‘Misled’
According to Casino.org, the standoff between CDI and ITHA has partly been caused by the Louisville ky-based company failure to pursue casino gaming in the racetrack at Chicago suburban. Additional slots and table games would have boosted the revenue generated in the racing track.
Illinois passed an extended gaming bill last summer, among other things which include a horse track to seek a casino license. However, CDI blames the state tax structure, which makes the opportunity unprofitable.
The horse owners and trainers now claim that Churchill Downs is no longer interested in developing the Illinois racing industry. The company recently purchased a stake at Rivers Des Plaines. The horsemen want CDI to either sell the racetrack to another company or the state to take action against them.
The horsemen feel deceived into believing Churchill Downs if an agreement won’t be reached. IRB Executive Director Domenic DiCera said that Arlington’s contract would be considered in the 21st January meeting in Chicago.