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ITHA/AP Contract Update

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

March 27, 2015
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Message From ITHA Executive Committee Concerning ITHA/AP Contract Negotiations

Dear Fellow Horsemen:

 

The current ITHA/AP contract expires on April 22, 2015. The ITHA Contract Committee of President Mike Campbell, Vice-President Chris Block, Directors Steve Holland and Marty Nixon, and Executive Director Glen Berman have been meeting with Arlington principals since late last year to come to an agreement on a new contract covering the 2015 racing season. The parties agreed to refrain from public commentary during the process and to avoid disparaging each other publicly.

 

While ITHA has upheld its end of the agreement, Arlington has not.

 

At the Illinois Racing Board meeting on March 17, 2015, in front of reporters from local and national press, Churchill Downs, Inc. Senior Vice President and Arlington Park General Manager Tony Petrillo gratuitously testified falsely and aggressively against the ITHA. During a discussion about the Arlington Park 2015 stakes schedule, Glen Berman was asked by the IRB about the status of the ITHA/AP contract. (This testimony begins at about the 1 hour and 58 minute mark of the audio for the March 17 meeting available on the IRB website.) Berman responded that ITHA had submitted a signed contract to Arlington (a proposal that remains pending). Chris Block further responded that negotiations had come to a standstill and that we remain at a standstill, unfortunately.

 

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Petrillo then stated under oath that the chief impediment to an agreement is the amount of money the ITHA "diverts" from the purse account; that there is a demand for money this year from the purse account that is three times greater than from Hawthorne; that Arlington received a contract from the ITHA with the same percentage from the purse account as Hawthorne but that AP/CDI decided to set that aside and work on other issues; that ITHA's renewed contract offer calls for nearly 6% of purses earned taken out for ITHA expenses; and that AP/CDI feels that ITHA wants to see a lack of success at Arlington Park. None of the aforesaid statements by Petrillo are true and all of them not only violate our peace agreement but also are disruptive to the negotiation process.

 

AP/CDI followed up on its IRB performance by publishing its first condition book for 2015, without consulting with ITHA about the specific purse amounts, and in violation of our current contract, which requires ITHA to receive a proof of the first book two weeks prior to its delivery to the printer. And in a move that is difficult to comprehend, Arlington includes in the header of every race offered, following the purse amount, the words "purse reduced by $800 by the ITHA for their expenses" and refers the reader to a note on Page 2 of the book.

 

ITHA is funded statutorily by a percentage of retained handle to provide services to horsemen. Inclusion of this "purse reduced by" statement in the condition book is made for divisive purposes only. If AP/CDI were including it for informational purposes, then it also would include the $4.24 million it will take from the purse account in recapture subsidy - dollars that it diverts from the purse for its own purposes. Based upon Arlington's math, this voluntary cash grab by AP/CDI results in a $7,000 reduction per race, all season long, at the expense of the owners and trainers.

 

AP/CDI has gone even further in its campaign to undermine the organization representing and advocating on behalf of Illinois horsemen. It twice distributed a push poll - a set of loaded "questions" clearly intended to disparage the ITHA - to our members. More recently, it advised trainers that if there is no contract with the ITHA, trainers will have to sign a document renouncing their membership in the ITHA before they are allowed to bring their horses on to the grounds.

 

Enough is enough.

 

ITHA will present a series of informational columns between now and our General Membership Meeting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 4, 2015, at the Hawthorne Expo Center.

 

Illinois owners and trainers, through the ITHA Executive Committee, will continue to work toward an agreement before the start of Arlington's meet. We will continue to negotiate in good faith - for the sake of our members and the tens of thousands of jobs that we support throughout Illinois - and we encourage AP/CDI to do the same.

 

While we have thus far witnessed no attempt on the part of AP/CDI to negotiate in good faith, we remain hopeful that AP/CDI will immediately engage and that we will soon reach a fair and equitable agreement for both the horsemen and AP/CDI.

 

Sincerely,

 

The ITHA Executive Committee:

 

President Mike Campbell

Vice-President Chris Block

Director Steve Holland

Director Marty Nixon

Executive Director Glen Berman