Stall Rent Plan Casts Shadow Over
Upcoming Meet at Arlington Park
Arlington’s Attitude: “Take It Or Leave It”
How Quickly Will CDI Track Move to Capitalize on
Its Self-Granted Authority to Charge Stall Rent?
Posted by Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association
The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association is watching closely to see
how swiftly Arlington Park moves to capitalize on its authority to charge stall
rent during live racing.
The ITHA repeatedly implored Arlington to rescind this year’s stall applications
with the rent provision, and then re-issue applications without the insidious
language. Sadly, our repeated protests fell on deaf ears. Arlington’s
attitude: “Take it or leave it.”
As Illinois horsemen will recall, Arlington inserted the stall rent language
deep within the legalese of its 2013 stall application.
· Arlington’s proposal does not specify the cost of stall rent; the
potential charge is left open-ended.
· Under Arlington’s terms, it would have the authority to charge
rent from horsemen whose stalls don’t average one start per
month during live racing.
More than 95 percent of stalls won’t meet this standard and
could therefore be subject to the charge.
· Many horses stabling at Arlington are 2-year-olds in training and
others are recovering from injuries; these horses naturally
would not race. And even among 3-year-olds actively racing, very
few horses can recover quickly enough to make one start a month.
· Out of approximately 2,000 stalls at Arlington in 2012, fewer than
100 stalls would have met the “one start per stall per month” standard.
· Though Arlington has promoted the fiction that its stall rent policy would
apply to relatively few horsemen, the truth is that the rental charge could
apply to more than 95 percent of horsemen stabling there.
· It’s exceptionally dangerous – for both horses and jockeys – to force
horses to race every month. Most horses, even those in the best shape,
need several weeks to rest after each race. Pressuring them to race
before they are ready puts the safety of both the horses and the jockeys
· Additionally, rent could be imposed “on a horse which runs at another
racetrack in a race and condition that Arlington offers and runs.”
· Though other Churchill Downs Inc. tracks have imposed rent on stalls
during dark time, Arlington’s rent plan marks the first time in the history
of thoroughbred horse racing nationwide that horsemen may be forced
to pay stall rent during live racing. Arlington is a subsidiary of CDI.
Arlington insisted on granting itself the authority to charge stall rent even as
it stands to enjoy an estimated $4.1 million recapture subsidy in 2013 – dollars
that flow directly from the purse account at a rate of $46,000 a racing day.
As you’ll recall, Illinois lawmakers created the recapture subsidy to compensate
Arlington and other Illinois tracks for the loss in live handle related to
simulcasting their races across the globe. But, again, those subsidy dollars
come straight from our purses. So when Arlington loses money, the horsemen
pay the bill.
As Arlington maneuvers itself to increasingly focus on casino-style gaming,
track owners appear to be gradually trying to shed their own operational costs
and load those costs onto the horsemen.
Having now pushed for the authority to charge stall rent, what’s next?
Will Arlington force backstretch families to pay dorm rent? Will it force
horsemen to pay for water, electricity and the track’s other utilities?
This unfortunate development suggests once again that Arlington is less
committed to a healthy horse racing industry in Illinois, and more focused
on the potential for electronic gaming. Plain and simple, this is bad for racing.
We continue to evaluate our options on this front and will keep you posted.
To ensure you’re receiving ITHA updates on this and other critical matters,
send your contact information – name, phone, email address and
postal address – to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also see news updates
posted at itharacing.com.
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