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Fairmount Park Racetrack

Fairmount Park Will Have More Racing Days In 2020, But Has Not Yet Hit Its Minimum

Sep 27, 2019
In March 2019, a trainer works out a horse at Fairmount Park racetrack in Collinsville. The Illinois Racing Board recently approved the track's plan for 60 live racing days in 2020.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News-Democrat

Fairmount Park in Collinsville has scheduled 60 racing days in 2020 — up from 40 this year.

But that schedule will require Fairmount to spend more money upfront to help pay race purses for the extra days. To do that, the track will allow its purse account to run a deficit next year, said Brian Zander, president of Fairmount Park.

“We’re going to pay it forward,” Zander said. “The purse is going to go into a deficit situation. On the basis, the management knows at some point that money will be coming in. There will be at some point, we don’t know when, there will be some casino and sports betting revenue coming into the track.”

Horses cross the finish line at Fairmount Park Racetrack on July 23. The number of live races at the track will likely increase to 100 because of the gambling expansion bill passed earlier this year.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

Fairmount Park Racetrack is filled with spectators on most Tuesdays and Saturdays, eager to watch horses fly down the dirt track.

But with just 41 live racing days this year, the stands at the Collinsville track remain empty far more days than they’re filled.

A recent gambling-expansion law in Illinois could change the track’s fortunes. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill in June, which was long-sought by the horse racing industry. Racetracks can now apply for licenses to host table games like blackjack and roulette, slots, video gaming and sports betting. 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker addresses the crowd at Fairmount Park on July 30. He signed into law a gaming expansion that helps increase the tracks racing days to 100.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a massive gambling expansion into law in June. On Tuesday he stopped by Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville to talk about the impact.

The legislation offers six new casinos, a harness racetrack and casino licenses for the three existing racetracks in Illinois. Pritzker said adding other types of gaming will reverse the current decline at the horse racing track.

A jockey rides a horse back past the finish line after a race on opening day at Fairmount Park.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There were 30 minutes until the first race of the day and the locker room at Fairmount Park Racetrack buzzed with activity. Jockeys flipped through race programs and flicked their whips through the air. Television sets perched on cluttered shelves flashed scenes of the track outside, where fans filled the stands for opening day of the Collinsville racetrack's 91st season.

As announcers counted down in anticipation, the jockeys helped each other tape up aching joints and teased each other playfully. Some said a quick prayer.

(photo courtesy of Pinnacle Entertainment)

A hearing at the Casino Queen in East Saint Louis Tuesday will kick off an Illinois lawmaker’s renewed efforts to expand gambling in the state.

Rep. Bob Rita of Blue Island is reviving a proposal to increase state tax revenues by allowing five new casinos in Illinois, in northern and central Illinois, and add slot machines at horse racing tracks and Chicago airports. 

Rita says he’s following up on a promise he made to conduct regional hearings after the proposal he shouldered last year stalled.

(Robert Altman)

Fairmount Park Racetrack in the Metro East is getting 67 race days next year.

The Illinois Racing Board approved the race dates Tuesday.

This year Fairmount was awarded 75 days and raced 69.

But both the track and horsemen say they’re happy with next year’s 67-day schedule, which they requested.

Fairmount will be offering bigger purses for winner horses next year, and spokesman Jon Sloane says that’s good for the track.