Driver Tony Morgan, a resident of Beecher, Illinois and one of the Chicago area's premier harness drivers, has decided to relocate to the East Coast.
Frustration over the economic issues facing Illinois horsemen prompted Morgan's move to Dover, Del., according to an article published by the Northwest Indiana Times. In the beginning, Morgan, 47, will just be driving. State rules prevent him from bringing any of his horses to his new home until he's lived there for six months.
Even with that limitation, Morgan believes he'll be better off. In August, he resigned after serving his second consecutive term as president of the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association.
"I was getting tired as the racing business here in Illinois is so bad," Morgan said. "I've served my time and tried my best, and it's time to let someone else battle.
"The horsemen don't have anything to work with now that we didn't that legislation passed this spring. And after I saw the dates for 2006, there was no way I was going to stay in Chicago and race."
That decision has a lot of horsemen worried. Many have said publicly that without Morgan as one of their leaders, the horsemen stand little chance of being a formidable force in contract negotiations.
"I don't like the way the racing is in Chicago now," Morgan said. "This new group (Illinois Standardbred Association) has compromised our position terribly. The first of the year is going to be a disaster here.
"As it stands now, with both groups intact (the IHHA and ISA) -- with the horsemen divided into two groups -- we just don't have the leverage we used to have with the racetracks, the IRB, or the legislature."
Morgan is unhappy with what he sees as the tracks' influence on the Illinois Racing Board.
"The IRB has let the tracks dictate to them over the years, and that's not right," Morgan said.
"Cutting the amount of days that we race would have been the smart thing to do. That would have constituted more money for the purse account, and it would be best suited if it were done in blocks of time, instead of cutting days per week."
Courtesy of the Northwest Indiana Times