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It is a longshot, however Arlington Park’s survival attainable, racing board member says

Although saving Arlington Park could also be a longshot, current developments counsel there’s nonetheless hope to maintain the historic venue open, Illinois Racing Board Commissioner Alan Henry stated Tuesday.

“There’s a path alongside the rail, and we have nonetheless acquired ourselves a horse race,” Henry stated throughout the board’s month-to-month assembly, evaluating Arlington’s possibilities to a horse that was 20 lengths again however rallied to win the Kentucky Derby.

The feedback have been Henry’s newest try and exert public stress on proprietor Churchill Downs Inc. to promote to a different racing entity.

Two months in the past, at Henry’s first board assembly as a commissioner appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the Deerfield creator, journalist and longtime Arlington field holder blasted the Louisville-based company for its determination to place the storied monitor up on the market.

Regardless of declarations by CEO Invoice Carstanjen that the prime 326 acres of actual property can be offered for “different non-horse racing mixed-use choices,” Henry on Tuesday famous potential consumers at the moment are angling to bid on the property and maintain a portion of it working as a thoroughbred racetrack.

One such proposal — that of a gaggle led by former Arlington Park President Roy Arnold — is to maintain the grandstand and racetrack in place whereas relocating and setting up a brand new backstretch steady and including a lodge and leisure district, in addition to industrial, retail and residential parts.

Two days earlier than, the Arlington Heights village board blocked Churchill from putting restrictive covenants on the land as a part of a sale, in what’s the municipality’s effort to protect the potential for horse racing and playing there.



Henry known as the transfer “a giant deal.”

“Is it a recreation changer? Who is aware of. However CDI definitely now has to a minimum of take it into consideration,” he stated.

Henry, creator of a set of quick fiction tales within the guide “Horse Tales,” waxed nostalgic about Arlington — all the time “a cheerful place … on a sunny summer time afternoon.”

“It is households picnicking on the grass on the prime of the stretch, and workplace events going full tilt within the suites,” Henry stated in his ready remarks. “It is of us marveling on the 1000’s of flowers, huge cantilever roof and expansive European-style paddock space.”

“It is the bowling membership high-fiving within the winner’s circle because the horse they just lately claimed wins his first race, and dads standing on the rail with their 2-year-olds on their shoulders cheering on their choose, and {couples} posing for photos in entrance of the statue of John Henry and The Bart — and swearing it nonetheless appears to be like like The Bart received the world’s first million-dollar race.”



“That is all part of the magic that’s now on life assist.”

Henry agreed with Charles Gruenwald, a Churchill Downs shareholder who spoke throughout public remark earlier within the assembly and stated if Churchill would not want to maintain Arlington open, the corporate ought to let any person else attempt.

“Arlington is the nicest racetrack in North America and it is within the third largest sports activities market,” Gruenwald stated. “Sure, I am a shareholder of Churchill Downs and I need the corporate to do good, however extra importantly I need Illinois racing to do good. I need the staff at Arlington to do good. I need them to have jobs. And I need the horsemen in Illinois to have a promising future.”

Racing Board Chairman Dan Beiser stated these frustrations and considerations are shared by many on the board, all through the state and within the horse racing business. By comparability, at Fairmount Park in downstate Collinsville, Beiser stated there’s renewed pleasure amongst racing followers due to preliminary and deliberate enhancements to the monitor.

“It is a breath of contemporary air for this neck of the woods,” stated Beiser, of close by Godfrey, who just lately attended Fairmount’s opening day. “And I hope that breath of contemporary air makes it up north.”

Churchill Downs has set a June 15 deadline for builders to submit proposals.


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