Day At The Track

Budget cuts forcing horsemen to other states

05:52 AM 15 Jun 2016 NZST
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Budget cuts
Budget cuts
HINSDALE, Illinois - The thrill of thundering hooves may soon be a thing of the past at Illinois county fairs. But for at least one more year, harness racing enthusiasts can watch the ponies prance at more than two dozen tracks across Illinois.

"The IHHA is funding several races and horsemen will continue to put on a great show for fans who come to the county fairs with horse racing," said IHHA President Marty Engel.

Many horsemen will compete in the races however, knowing that the purses for winners might not even cover their travel expenses, let alone feed, veterinarian, and training costs.

"The crippling budget impasse in Springfield is affecting everyone in Illinois," said Engel. "County Fair racing will go on this summer, but it will be scaled back and the impact on the rest of the industry is plain. All of our talent is leaving Illinois for greener pastures."

County fair harness racing has long been a staple of the industry, acting as a sort of minor league for the bigger Chicago racing circuit. Illinois horse breeding incentives, prize money and funding for drug testing have all been slashed in the last few years, leading to a ripple effect that has traumatized the industry in Illinois.

"It is the definition of pennywise and pound foolish," said Stanadardbred horse trainer Clark Fairley. "The state hopes to save money by cutting funding for horse racing at County Fairs, but they are slowly gutting an industry that generates millions of dollars in taxes, not to mention all of the good agriculture jobs."

At the heart of the issue is horse breeding. Not since the 1950's has Illinois bred so few Standardbred horses. In 2002 there were 2,409 foals born in Illinois. That number dropped to 1,390 foals in 2010, 907 foals in 2014 and 796 foals in 2015. The effect is felt throughout the economy from truck and trailer dealers, to hay and grain farmers to blacksmiths, grooms and veterinarians. At the same time, the number of foals born in other states has climbed and the horse racing industries in states like Indiana and Ohio have added jobs and revenue.

"We have a talent drain in Illinois," said Engel. "Jobs and revenue are pouring out to other states. Our state needs jobs and tax revenue, and Illinois is just not investing."
The IHHA is urging legislators to pass a budget that invests in agribusiness like horse racing.

"These are real jobs that generate real revenue for the state," said Fairley. "The state needs to invest in the people and businesses of Illinois."
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Date
County
City


June 13
Clark
Martinsville

June 21
Perry
Pinckneyville

June 21 & 22
Greene
Carrollton

June 24 & 25
Jasper
Newton

June 26
Henry
Cambridge

June 29 & 30
Schuyler
Rushville

July 5
Macoupin
Carlinville

July 6
Knox
Knoxville

July 10 & 11
Wayne
Fairfield

July 13
Marshall-Putnam
Henry

July 20
Menard
Petersburg

July 26
Fulton
Lewiston

July 26 7:00 pm
Champaign
Urbana

July 26 & 27
Edgar
Paris

July 31 - Aug 2
Logan
Lincoln

July 31 - Aug 4
Effingham
Altamont
August 1
White
Carmi

August 2 - 5
Coles
Charleston

August 5
Williamson
Marion

August 6 & 7
Brown
Mt. Sterling

August 9 & 10
Boone
Belvidere

August 16 & 18
Cumberland
Greenup

August 20
Whiteside
Morrison

August 20 & 21
Union
Anna

September 3 & 4
Christian Tri-Co
Pana

September 7
DeKalb
Sandwich
 

Mack Communications
1015 Maple Ave, Suite 200
Downers Grove, IL 60515
630-357-7552
Fax: 630-541-3212
www.mackcommunications.com
 
 
 
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