Arlington Park and Canterbury Park recently released their first condition books for their respective 2016 race meets signaling that spring may not be too far away, despite anticipated heavy snowfall throughout the region today.
Purses remain strong in Minnesota as the track’s joint marketing agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community matures. Open maiden special weights come in at $28,000 while a non-winners of 2 allowance race check in at $32,000. While Canterbury does not yet have a graded stake on the program, the recently Listed Mystic Lake Derby carries a purse of $200,000 while most other open stakes carry a $75,000 purse and overnight stakes $40,000. The Lady Canterbury is the other race on the docket carrying a six figure purse ($100,000).
The rumored imminent demise of Arlington Park has perhaps been overstated, or just postponed, as purses check in there stronger than many expected. Open maiden special races will be contested for $32,000 and non-winners of 2 allowances at $33,000. Arlington Million Day remains strong with the American St. Leger checking in at $350,000, the Secretariat at $450,000, the Beverly D at $700,000 and, of course, the Million at $1,000,000.
As 2016 moves forward, Canterbury has six years left in the agreement with the SMSC and the future there for horsemen looks stable. In Illinois the future is less secure. Although alternative gaming in the form of slot machines at the racetracks seems to gain traction every year, a bill has yet to be signed into law by a governor. How patient Churchill Downs is willing to be given their march toward becoming a casino, rather than a horse racing, company, remains to be seen.
Privately owned Hawthorne Race Course, in Cicero, IL, has stepped into the harness industry again in the absence of Maywood and Balmoral, hosting a brief harness meet this winter and a more extended meet this summer. It is uncertain how any lack of alternative gaming would affect Hawthorne but they could be poised to pick up dates vacated by Arlington should Churchill determine that the real estate offers more of a value to shareholders than a casino-less racing operation.