HINSDALE, Ill. - The Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association is urging harness racing horsemen to participate in upcoming yearling sales, reminding everyone that funding for the Illinois bred stakes program for 2015 should be very similar to 2014.
"The earnings potential for two-year-olds in 2015 should be substantial," said IHHA President . "We believe that the Illinois breeding program is the lifeblood of the harness racing industry and we will do everything we can to ensure that our breeding program is able to continue."
While horsemen in Illinois have experienced difficulty over the years because of a lack of new revenue sources, the IHHA is still hopeful that legislation approving slots at racetracks will become law in the near future. In the meantime, Standardbred breeders in Illinois continue to breed great young horses and hold yearling sales throughout the summer.
"Illinois has a long history of breeding champion racehorses," said Hall of Fame Standardbred breeder "Doc" Walker. "People may be tentative about certain aspects of our future but horsemen can be confident that there will be yearlings to buy this summer and plenty of stakes races to enter them in during 2015."
Horsemen should expect the usual stakes races in 2015 including the Super Night races, the Cardinals and the Violets. The stakes races at both the Springfield and DuQuoin State Fairs will be run as well as the County Fairs throughout the state. Funding for Illinois bred stakes races that comes from the Illinois Department of Agriculture is slated to remain at current levels. Foal crops have been similar the last few years so nominating payments should also be comparable. "There will be ample opportunity for horsemen to race young Illinois bred horses in 2015," said McCaffrey.
"The breeding programs are important to the viability of the horse racing industry here and have a positive impact on the Illinois economy," said Bob Flider, Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. "I'm very pleased that my department will be able to continue funding the stakes races at existing levels in its current budget."
The current contract between the IHHA and the racetracks is for racing four nights a week through June 30, 2015. After that is still to be determined but both groups anticipate a schedule of somewhere between two and four days per week beginning July 1, 2015.
"There will be harness racing in Illinois in 2015 and there will be an Illinois bred stakes program," said Duke Johnston. We understand how important it is to both horsemen and the racetracks. "It is vital to the industry that the Illinois breeding programs stays strong and the horse population stays consistent."
Supported by industry leaders:, President Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association; Duke Johnston, President Maywood and Balmoral Park; Robert Flider, Director Illinois Department of Agriculture.
by Andrew Mack, for IHHA