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Letter from President Mike Campbell

Legislative & News Update for Illinois Horsemen
From the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

February 13, 2015
ITHA is proud to represent horsemen at Arlington Park and Hawthorne Racecourse.
 
For decades, we've worked
to preserve and enhance Illinois purses.

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Dear Fellow Horsemen:

 

The ITHA is actively engaged in negotiations with Churchill Downs Inc./Arlington Park concerning a contract for the track's 2015 meet, and we have discussed several issues of interest to both Illinois horsemen and the track. One matter we have not yet discussed, however, is the level of payment to the ITHA for costs associated with representing horsemen.

In fact, when Mike Campbell, Chris Block and Glen Berman met with Mr. D and Tony Petrillo on Jan. 27, both sides specifically agreed to defer discussion of the payment to the ITHA until the other contract provisions are agreed to, as we have done previously.

Yesterday, an ITHA committee of Mike Campbell, Chris Block, Steve Holland, Marty Nixon and Glen Berman met to review the contract issues raised during the Jan. 27 meeting in order to move the process along. During that discussion, we all were reasonably confident that we could reach a contract for 2015 in short order.

Yet, as we spoke, we learned that CDI/AP had distributed via email to horsemen a message loaded with scurrilous attacks on the ITHA and, in particular, chastising payments made to our organization. We are profoundly disappointed by this sudden and unfortunate development. But we will continue, on behalf of Illinois owners and trainers, to negotiate in good faith toward a 2015 contract with CDI/AP.

We respectfully urge CDI/AP to do the same.

Below, please find a letter that Mike Campbell sent earlier yesterday to Mr. D (before learning of the CDI/AP message to horsemen) in response to two recent letters that Mike received from Mr. D concerning matters relating to the Illinois racing industry.

Racing Horses

Letter from Mike Campbell to Mr. D:

"This is the Moment for All Stakeholders to Join Forces"

Dear Mr. D,

 

I wanted to acknowledge your recent correspondence.

I do appreciate your expressed sentiment about working together to ensure the continued survival, and indeed the future prosperity, of the Illinois horse racing industry. The horsemen represented by our association collectively have a recurring capital investment which exceeds that of any racetrack, and we account for the lion's share of the jobs and economic activity represented by the industry. As your correspondence recognizes, we are very important stakeholders, and we continue to support enhanced purses through electronic gaming expansion that would benefit the industry. From the perspective of horsemen, adequately funded purses are the economic engine that produces so much economic activity, job retention and creation, and needed tax revenue. You will always have an ally in me and this association on such matters of common interest.

Our organization has enjoyed a healthy and collaborative relationship with Hawthorne Race Course, but in candor a less consistently positive relationship with Arlington. There have been some unfortunate, recent strains on the multi-decade relationship between our two organizations, including efforts to downsize or close Hawthorne (and thereby reduce racing opportunities for our members), to impose new and unprecedented costs on horsemen (such as the proposed imposition of a first-ever "stall rent"), or to seek the creation of a "house organization" with which to collectively bargain (disregarding the long history and standing of our association). With both hopeful optimism and complete sincerity, I look forward to a new era of improved relationship and collaboration, beginning with the negotiation of a 2015 racing season contract between us.

Regarding the desirable profile of IRB commissioners, our association yearns for regulators who will faithfully uphold the law and promote it statutorily expressed goals. We yearn for fairness, not blind allegiance to any one industry stakeholder.

My association looks forward to the coming year with great hope for our industry. Working together, this is the moment for all stakeholders to join forces in pursuing the legislative changes we have long agreed upon, and which will assure the long-term viability of the sport and industry we both hold dear. I look forward to focusing energy on areas of commonality, not difference, and I wish both you and Arlington the very best as we jointly strive for great achievements this year.

Very truly yours,

Mike Campbell Signature

Mike Campbell
President
Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

 

To ensure you're receiving ITHA updates on this and other critical matters, send your contact information - name, phone, email address and postal address - to info@itharacing.com. Also see news updates posted at itharacing.com.

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