Agreement paves the way for racing at Arlington

  • Opening Day at Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights is set for May 6.

      Opening Day at Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights is set for May 6. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer/August 2015

Updated 5/1/2016 7:44 PM

As Opening Day inched closer at Arlington International Racecourse, track officials reached an agreement that will allow the racing season to begin as scheduled on May 6.

The agreement between Arlington International Racecourse and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association was reached Friday, according to track officials.


The track will open as scheduled May 6, followed by Kentucky Derby Day on May 7 and Mother's Day on May 8.

According to officials, the horsemen will start shipping their horses from Hawthorne Race Course, where the season ends this weekend.

Officials said there were a couple of minor sticking points that prolonged the negotiations. Those issues were resolved late Friday afternoon.

Racetrack GM Tony Petrillo said it wasn't the longest negotiation.

In the past, he said, "we went down to the day before. It could have been later, but we're very delighted to have reached an agreement and we're looking forward to May 6."

But deal wasn't reached without legal drama.

On April 18, the horsemen's association filed a federal lawsuit against Arlington, the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation and the Illinois Racing Board.

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The suit claimed the three entities unlawfully "colluded" to replace the horsemen's association with the thoroughbred breeders group.

Losing its affiliation with Arlington would have cut the ITHA off from a share of the purse money, the main source of funding for the organization, and significantly hinder its ability to pay lobbyists' salaries and administer welfare programs for track workers who live on the backstretch.

A 2015 report from the ITHA shows Arlington Park provided $466,164 of its $708,141 in revenue in 2015. The other $241,997 came from Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero.

• Daily Herald staff writer Kerry Lester contributed to this report.

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