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Ill. board withdraws dates for new track

October 15, 2019
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A proposed harness racetrack in Illinois appears dead following an investigation that revealed that a partner in the venture, Gold Rush Gaming owner Rick Heidner, has been involved in numerous real estate transactions with Rocco Suspenzi, chairman of the board at Parkway Bank and Trust.
 
The Illinois Racing Board met on Tuesday morning and Heidner was in attendance, but declined to comment, according to the Tribune story. The Racing Board had awarded the proposed track 2020 dates, but withdrew their approval at the Tuesday meeting.
 
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, in 2003 Suspenzi and his son Jeffrey were exposed for concealing their ownership stake, as well as that of an alleged mob figure, in the Emerald casino in Rosemont. Last Friday Heidner’s name was listed in a federal search warrant at the office of Democratic state Sen. Martin Sandoval.
 
The Tinley Park property earmarked for the new track is owned by the state. On Tuesday, Illinois Gov.  J.B. Pritzer, in a letter issued by his administration, said the state will not sell the land.
 
In 2003, the FBI and the Illinois Gaming Board exposed Suspenzi and his son Jeffrey for concealing their own ownership stake, as well as that of a reputed mob figure, in the infamous Emerald casino project. At the same time, Parkway Bank made a seven-figure loan to another reputed mobster to finance his secret stake in the casino, according to Gaming Board records.
 
Just last month, at a meeting of the Illinois Racing Board, Heidner and Hawthorne Race Course presented plans for a new harness track in Tinley Park. The Racing Board granted December 2020 dates for the Tinley Park track based on the presentation that the property would be purchased and construction begun in early 2020.
 
Hawthorne Race Course applied for and received harness racing dates for 2020, with 92 dates from Feb. 15 through Sept. 20.
 
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