Snatching Our Purses

If Arlington Is Permitted to Divert $7.8 Million from the Purse Account in 2020, Just $133,000 On Average Per Day Will Remain for Overnights

ITHA Urges Illinois Horsemen to Apply for 2020 Stalls at Arlington, But to Consider a Plan B; Arlington Has Not Yet Agreed to a Contract that Will Adequately Fund Overnight Purses for the Coming Meet

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association encourages horsemen to submit applications for 2020 stall space at Arlington Park. The application is available for download here.

But Illinois owners and trainers also are urged to consider an alternative plan for racing this summer. Despite the ITHA's good faith efforts to reach a fair and equitable contract for the 2020 meet, Arlington has refused to commit to adequate funding of overnight purses. We remain hopeful that an acceptable contract will be in place by the start of the meet, but no agreement has yet been reached.

Arlington Plans to Divert $7.8 Million from Purse Account, Leaving Just Under $9.1 Million for Overnights

If Arlington's contract terms are approved, the track will divert more than 44% of the revenue earned for purses for purposes other than overnights. Consider:

  • Approximately $17.7 million will be earned for purses at Arlington in 2020.
  • Arlington plans to take $4.5 million for recapture and give those purse dollars to its parent company, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, to use however it may please.
  • Arlington plans to devote another approximately $3.3 million to subsidize open stakes.
  • After that, only about $9.1 million would remain for overnight purses in 2020.
  • Overnight purses on average each day this year would then amount to only an estimated $133,000, according to the ITHA's calculations.

Arlington's proposed distribution of purse funds in 2020 is depicted below.

Purse dollars are intended to support jobs and economic opportunity for men and women who for much or all of the year call Illinois home — those individuals who dedicate themselves to racing here and, in doing so, pay taxes and help support our local economy.

For Arlington to be competitive and ensure the continuation of live racing here, overnight purses this year should be funded at a minimum of $200,000 on average each day. It’s past time for Arlington and Churchill to act in good faith and genuinely promote the best interests of our industry and our state’s taxpayers. They can start by approving a 2020 contract that will ensure adequate and competitive overnight purses at Arlington.