The Illinois Horse Racing Board (IRB) held what Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association (IHHA) president Dave McCaffrey called "a remarkable meeting" on Tuesday (Sept. 24) when it addressed the 2014 racing calendar. If the IRB doesn't have enough money in its budget to regulate live racing, it may be forced to slash live racing dates, with harness racing facing a possible reduction to just 13 live programs at Balmoral Park and no live racing at all at Maywood Park.
State lawmakers let authorization for advanced deposit wagering (ADW) expire for five months earlier this year, costing the IRB nearly $750,000 in tax revenue it uses to regulate the sport. In addition, the legislation passed only runs through 2013, and there are disagreements among the horse racing industry regarding another ADW bill. According to The Blood-Horse, the Illinois Thoroughbred horsemen are opposed to the present ADW bill proposed. Mike Campbell, president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said "The horsemen are being used as leverage between the ADW companies and the tracks."
On the IHHA website, McCaffrey outlined four possible scenarios for 2014, with the adoption of one to be determined by whether or not advanced deposit wagering (ADW) in the state is extended, and whether the IRB gets extra "supplemental" funding from the state.
"The four scenarios go in order from the best possibility to the worst, with Scenario 4 basically ending harness racing in Illinois," wrote McCaffrey.
Scenario 1: The first scenario is dependent on the IRB receiving supplemental funding and ADW being renewed by January. Scenario 1 is for Maywood to race two nights per week from Feb. 5 to Dec. 31. Balmoral will race three nights per week from Feb. 4 to Dec. 31. Total live harness dates of 136 at Balmoral and 89 at Maywood.
Scenario 2: The second scenario will happen if ADW is renewed by January but no supplemental funding for the IRB is received. Scenario 2 is for Maywood to race two nights per week from Feb. 19 to Dec. 31. Balmoral will race two nights per week from Feb. 15 to Dec. 31. That's a total of 88 live harness programs at Balmoral and 85 live harness programs at Maywood.
Scenario 3: Scenario 3 will happen if the IRB receives supplemental funding but no ADW extension is passed. Scenario 3 is for Maywood to have no live racing. Balmoral will race two nights per week (Friday and Saturday) starting on Feb. 15 and ending on Dec. 31 for a total of 84 live programs.
Scenario 4: Scenario 4 will happen if the IRB receives no supplemental funding and ADW is not renewed. Scenario 4 is for Maywood to have no live racing. Balmoral will have 13 live dates in July and August only.
Both backstretches are required to stay open next year.
"When we know more about the efforts to pass ADW and to secure supplemental funding, we will pass it along," added McCaffrey.
Thoroughbred racing is also facing virtual extinction in 2014 under Scenario 4, with just 49 live dates at Arlington Park, 15 live programs at Hawthorne, and 10 at Fairmount Park.