Down To The Wire: Arlington, Horsemen Still Working On Deal For 2020-21

After both sides announced they had reached a tentative deal for a 2020 race meet late Wednesday, representatives from Arlington Park and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association agreed Thursday they needed just a little more time to hammer out some more minor points.

At a teleconference meeting of the Illinois Racing Board Thursday, the two groups revealed they have agreed to a total of 30 race dates beginning July 23 and racing Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays with daily post times of 2 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. Sept. 27 through 30 would be considered dark days for Arlington.

According to testimony before the board Thursday, the sticking point is now 2021. Arlington wants a two-year agreement with the horsemen’s group, which was initially opposed to making a deal beyond 2020. Now, the two sides have agreed to make a two-year deal but disagree on what to do if their projections for revenue or planned number of race dates assigned turn out to be incorrect. It seemed Thursday as though Arlington was willing to leave the contingencies fairly open with an intent to renegotiate for 2021 if necessary, while the horsemen want everything spelled out before signing a deal.

The board took a 15-minute recess in hopes these last points could be cleared up in that time, but upon return decided to recess the meeting until Friday at 1 p.m. local time. Board executive director Domenic DiCera and commissioner Thomas McCauley are scheduled to conduct a phone meeting with the two sides beforehand to help iron out any further disagreements, with the hope that the 1 p.m. board meeting will result in an allocation of dates and signed agreement for the 2020 meet at Arlington.

All seemed to concur that if a contract could not be agreed upon by Friday, it seemed unlikely the two parties would be able to reach an agreement for 2020 at all.

Two callers in Thursday’s meeting expressed concern and confusion that Arlington OTB facilities did not seem to be operating as expected — being closed when they were supposed to be open, lacking the ability to make cash payouts or sell programs. Hawthorne’s OTBs have, by contrast, been busy and pulling in considerably more money for horsemen, according to Tony Somone from the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association. Somone also pointed out that Arlington OTBs were showing only TVG races during a recent visit and did not include a feed from Hawthorne, which is not carried by TVG.

Arlington Park president Tony Petrillo said the OTB’s open hours had been submitted to the board and customers should have been able to make in-and-out wagers during that time.

Friday’s meeting of the Illinois Racing Board will be livestreamed on the board’s website.

The post Down To The Wire: Arlington, Horsemen Still Working On Deal For 2020-21 appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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