As the Illinois horse racing world turns, the industry took yet another swerve this month with Arlington Park officials filing a lawsuit against the Illinois Racing Board over losing 18 simulcast host days in early 2013, a loss the Daily Racing Form estimates will cost the track $1 million in revenue.
According to a report by Crain's, the complaint filed earlier this month in Cook County court focuses on the IRB's decision to award those 18 days to Hawthorne Race Course instead of Arlington Park.
The suit contends the move was to make up for revenue Hawthorne is likely to lose because its signature spring race -- the Illinois Derby -- was not included in Churchill Downs' new points format setting the 36 key qualifying races leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
At the dates hearing in September, Kevin Flanery, president of Arlington Park's parent company Churchill Downs, explained the decision to exclude the Hawthorne race from its "Road to the Kentucky Derby" format by saying that "the Illinois Derby simply didn't measure up to all the different criteria."
The IRB wasn't buying that explanation, arguing that the exclusion of the race was "taking away from the prestige of the Illinois Derby," and opted to give Hawthorne an additional 18 host days (Jan. 27-Feb. 14) to compensate.
The lawsuit contends that because Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois is the largest shareholder in Churchill Downs, the IRB decided to "punish" Arlington Park by taking away the 18 dates.
Arlington officials would not comment Wednesday on the lawsuit.
At the dates hearing, Arlington general manager Tony Petrillo said revenue from those 18 days was to be used to cover the track's cost for installing temporary lights for three night racing dates planned for the 2013 season. Those plans have since been shelved.
The next hearing on the suit is scheduled for May 2013.