Live horse racing begins at Fairmount Park Tuesday with 42 live racing days—the fewest in the track’s history.
Notable dates at the track, located at 9301 Collinsville Road, include Saturday, when the Kentucky Derby will be broadcast at the track while live racing also takes place beginning at 12:30 p.m. On June 17, the Budweiser Clydesdales will appear before the 7:30 p.m. races.
Track President Brian Zander said the reduction of races this season was not limited to Fairmount.
“Really, everbody in the state of Illinois was reduced pretty drastically. It’s a combination of a number of things, but the biggest thing is the number of horses that are available to be able to put on competitive races,” he said.
Everbody in the state of Illinois was reduced pretty drastically. It’s a combination of a number of things, but the biggest thing is the number of horses that are available to be able to put on competitive races.
Brian Zander, Fairmount president
A lack of horses to race is due to owners fleeing Illinois’ tracks in the face of stagnating winnings. Tracks in states that surround Illinois can offer significantly higher purses because those tracks allow slot machines on their grounds. That’s not allowed in Illinois.
To combat the stagnation, the Illinois Racing Board altered the racing seasons at tracks throughout the state.
“The biggest difference between this year and last year was last year, we opened earlier. We opened in March,” Zander said.
The racing board pushed Fairmount’s opening back to make more horses available for Chicago-area race tracks earlier this spring, Zander said. That decision also meant that the end of early spring races in Chicago would cause horse availability to see-saw in Fairmount’s favor later.