Illinois horsemen to receive $5.1 million in budget surplus funds for purses

Legislative advocacy by racing stakeholders in Illinois has resulted in lawmakers approving the transfer of $5.1 million in budget surplus funds to the Horse Racing Fund for Standardbred and Thoroughbred purse support.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association reported that the funds will be transferred soon after the next fiscal year begins July 1. The horsemen’s associations that represent Hawthorne Race Course (the ITHA and Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association) and FanDuel Sportsbook and Horseracing at Fairmount Park (Illinois Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association) worked on an agreement for disbursement of the purse funds.

Hawthorne will receive $1.53 million for harness racing and $2.29 million for Thoroughbred racing. Fairmount will get $1.27 million for its Thoroughbred meet.

In 2023 Hawthorne, under the name Suburban Downs, will offer 49 evening harness programs from Sept. 9-Dec. 31. Last year, when harness racing was held in the summer and Thoroughbreds had winter/spring and fall meets, Hawthorne held 65 harness programs with gross purses paid of $7.2 million.

Given the schedule changes in 2023, Hawthorne is financially supporting limited racing at Springfield and Du Quoin this spring and summer to bridge the gap before its live meet begins.

A release from the ITHA credited all parties as well as Daniel Beiser and Domenic DiCera, the chairman and executive director, respectively, of the Illinois Racing Board for supporting the initiative to garner additional purse money for the three race meets in the state.

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