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updated: 4/24/2013 2:42 PM

Arlington race track reaches deal with horsemen

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After months of sniping between the two sides, officials at Arlington International Racecourse and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association have come to a two-year agreement on a contract.

Any doubt about Arlington not receiving the simulcasting signal from Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby and Oaks days -- in what would have been a show of solidarity between the Kentucky horsemen and their Illinois counterparts -- is now erased.

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Any doubt of Arlington's opening weekend being hampered by small fields -- like they were last year because of a similar dispute -- is also erased.

But just exactly what both sides compromised on in coming to this agreement, including the issue of charging stall rent, is still not clear. Both sides were quiet on the topic.

But what is clear is the agreement is a win for racing fans.

"Big fields, a great opening weekend, a big Derby party and a real celebration of racing on racing's biggest day," Arlington general manager Tony Petrillo said Wednesday.

The ITHA posted the following statement on its website: "ITHA and Arlington Park are pleased to announce that a two-year contract between the horsemen and the track was agreed to (Tuesday) night. We look forward to a great racing season at Arlington."

That the agreement is for two years is a big deal, according to Petrillo.

"Very much so," he said. "We don't even know what legislation is going to be out there. Let's fix racing and deal with those other things later."

Petrillo thinks the two sides -- who haven't always been on the same wavelength -- will now form a more unified front when dealing with the Illinois legislature when it comes to issues concerning racing's future.

"Yeah, I think some of the issues that we ran into a little bit of difference on have been fully vetted out," he said. "Pursuing ADW (advance deposit wagering) and slots at the race track is of very high interest to both of us and I believe we're both on the same page."

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