Jim O'Donnell: It's a bird, it's a pain -- it's 'Bunker' Bill Carstanjen at Arlington Trackside!

  • Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., was spotted recently at Arlington Trackside.

    Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., was spotted recently at Arlington Trackside. Courtesy of Andrew Kung

 
Updated 10/13/2021 6:35 PM

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE a good Bill Carstanjen sighting at Arlington Trackside to draw the encrusted regulars away from their daily handicapping mortis.

That 99-1 shot came in on a recent afternoon when the notoriously reclusive CEO of Churchill Downs Inc. breezed through the free-standing 33-year-old AP betting center.

 

Carstanjen is hard not to notice. He is 6-foot-7, normally impeccably dressed and with a boyish mien that suggests a cornstalk Opie Taylor.

"I looked up and thought, my gosh, it's 'Bunker Bill,' " said Lori Setnan, usually a Trackside weekender.

"We thought he was here to make sure they had discontinued the complimentary doughnuts in The Gold Room," a more cynical carpenter said.

Notably, Carstanjen was accompanied by Arlington VP/marketing Ken Kiehn and an unidentified third party.

Absent was AP gadfly Anthony Petrillo. He's the "track president" who earned national scorn and embarrassment for Carstanjen's CDI by throwing all working media out of the Arlington press box on the tattered "Mr. D. Day" in August.

CDI-HQ declined a request from The Daily Herald to explain why the CEO was publicly on view in Arlington Heights and why Petrillo was missing.

Carstanjen's Loch Ness monster buster came amid a flurry of activity since CDI announced the signing of a Purchase and Sale Agreement with the Chicago Bears two weeks ago:

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Among other microbursts:

• Bears chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips were given a full tour of the 326 acres, including areas of the backstretch neither had reportedly ever seen live and up close before.

As expected, plans are evolving in which the new George S. Halas Stadium will be located in the northwest portion of the trapezoid, near Northwest Highway and Route 53.

• Further ideas are said to be under discussion in which the Regional Transportation Authority will be asked to participate in the construction of a new "event-day only" train stop on the Metra-Northwest line.

The concept and usage would be similar to the "Ravinia Park" station on the Metra-North line.

Its location would be approximately one-third of a mile northwest of the current Arlington Park platform.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

STREET-BEATIN': Prediction for Game 5 of the Dodgers-Giants NLDS (TBS, Thursday, 8 p.m.): Willie McCovey will not line out to Bobby Richardson with runners on second and third to end it. Vegas hung the game as a pick with only a tiny trend tilting toward Kris Bryant and his Bay Area bafflers. ...

Who ever thought the Boston Red Sox would emerge as a sentimental favorite west of Hartford in an ALCS? (Game 1 vs. cheatin' Houston, Friday, Fox, 7 p.m.). BoSox fans can only hope manager Alex Cora -- formerly of the Astros -- doesn't get mixed up on stolen sign signals. ...

One absolute about the future of Tony La Russa as manager of the White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf will do what he wants when he wants. (Maybe it will devolve into a Doug Collins thing, where Reinsdorf likes La Russa "too much" to let him continue; At least that'll get the Frankie Valli 8-tracks out of the manager's office.) ...

Game 2 of the Sox-Astros ALDS was a game for the ages: Managers La Russa (77) and Dusty Baker (72) on the field; MLB Network announcers Bob Costas (69), Jim Kaat (82) and Buck Showalter (65) in the booth. (And all of them would get the McCovey-Richardson reference.) ...

Those reprehensible Jon Gruden emails must explain why two roughing-the-passer calls on the same odd 79-yard TD drive got Justin Fields and the baby-buggy Bears offense into gear at Las Vegas. If the yellow pixies continue to fall Matt Nagy's way like that, his Madcaps roll to victory in Super Bowl 56. ...

Speaking of Allegiant Stadium -- home of the Raiders -- yes, the low-cost airline paid more than $400M for 20 years of naming rights. (Allegiant Air chairman Maury Gallagher -- with a net worth approaching $750M -- graduated from Prospect High in 1967 along with Dave Kingman and Tom Lundstedt.) ...

Media marksman Jason Barrett is reportedly circling the vacant Good Karma market manager post at ESPN AM-1000. The same week Mike Thomas left that role to return to Boston, ESPN NY and LA lost veteran boss Tim McCarthy; Craig Karmazin and Good Karma are expected to take over sales and marketing at both outlets. ...

And droll Patti Paul, on Chicago's revolving sports and gaming terrain: "Can they move thoroughbred racing to Soldier Field?"

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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