COLLINSVILLE • Fairmount Park will end its live racing meet three weeks early this season — on Sept. 9 — after the Illinois Racing Board on Tuesday approved a request from Fairmount president and chief executive Brian Zander to reduce the schedule because of a shortage of money.
The track will lose only six live dates — Sept. 13, 16, 20, 23, 27 and 30. The meet was originally scheduled to end on Sept. 30. The board had originally awarded the track 75 racing days last September on the hope that the Illinois Legislature would pass a gaming expansion bill.
That happened May 31. But Gov. Pat Quinn has said he wants to make changes to the bill because it involves too much gambling. Senate President John Cullerton has not sent the bill to the governor's desk for his approval. No indication has been given when that might happen.
The jockeying forced Zander to go before the racing board and request at its regular monthly meeting in Chicago a cutback on its live days. Zander had originally sought to "vacate" 11 days, but the board modified the request and approved six days.
Efforts to reach Zander were unsuccessful.
No live racing July 4
Money is also the reason Fairmount is not racing July 4. Instead, the track will race on its normal Tuesday afternoon date. Post time will be 1 p.m.
"We're probably going to be one of the few tracks that's going to be racing on the fifth," Zander said last Saturday. "That's going to give an opportunity for our (television) signal to go to TVG and other outlets. It's just going to have a broader appeal."
The Television Games network, which televises live horse racing around the country, including Fairmount on Tuesday, wouldn't televise Fairmount's races had the track raced on the holiday. That means the track would lose money from the TVG betting public.
Zander also said exploding fireworks near the track and around the six-furlong chute in the past has made both the horses and jockeys a little "nervous."
"We thought, all in all, it would be a better decision to go on the Tuesday," he said.