While the IHHA and Hawthorne Racecourse have had a contract for the 2017 race meet signed from the beginning of this year, both groups have been working on finding a comfort level for how the 2018 harness season may look. After many meaningful discussions, we are pleased to report that we have reached an agreement with Hawthorne for 2018. The contract is basically an extension of the 2017 one but includes considerations for maximizing racing dates (opportunities) while still addressing adequate purse levels. However, the IHHA reminds everyone that the Illinois Racing Board is still the ultimate authority for approving racing dates. Yet, Hawthorne’s pledge to harness racing beyond 2017, through this contract, shows that they are committed to harness racing into the future. We are looking forward to the start of our summer meet, which is right around the corner, opening night is Thursday, May 11. See you then.
SB 7, our gaming bill, continues to sit stagnant in the General Assembly. While efforts from all entities of the horse racing industry continue to talk, lobby, cajole and harass our legislators into some movement, recently there has been none. Certainly no movement for us and little or no movement on anything else pertinent to our state and its current budget crisis. This has not been unexpected. History has taught us that something of this magnitude would eventually be decided only within the last few days of the session, currently scheduled for adjournment on May 31. History has also proven that this adjournment day could be extended further into the summer. All shareholders of our industry continue to meet regularly with each other to discuss the most current rumors and innuendo and explore all angles and all of the moving parts involved. Unfortunately, as we have said for quite some time, not only horsemen but all citizens of Illinois are still at the mercy of decisions that need to come down from leadership. We will try and update everyone as soon as we hear anything newsworthy. Thanks for paying attention and thanks to all for your continued support as we try and survive the most difficult circumstances in our existence. Stay tuned.