Illinois Horse Racing Fans Get First Glimpse At Post-Arlington Life With 2022 Schedule

Written By Derek Helling on September 29, 2021 - Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Things are going to get super busy around the Chicago metro’s only surviving track next year. A recently approved 2022 Illinois horse racing schedule shows that Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero will pick up the brunt of the action displaced by the closing of Arlington International Racecourse.

Illinois horse betting action will only occur at two venues in the Prairie State moving forward, barring unexpected developments. However, it doesn’t seem the amount of action will diminish much if the remaining tracks execute the schedule well.

Details of the 2022 Illinois horse racing schedule

On Sept. 23, the Illinois Racing Board approved a schedule proposed by Hawthorne and FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing. The latter facility in Collinsville will feature at least seven races per active day next year.

That calendar starts on April 19, 2022, with racing on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Post times for Tuesday meets will be 1 p.m. That Tuesday-Saturday slate runs through June 11. Starting on June 12, the track will add Friday races as well. Post times for all Fridays and Saturdays will be 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 7, 2022, will be an exception to that rule, as the post time that day will be 1 p.m. The racing calendar at the former Fairmount Park will conclude on Sept. 24, 2022. All races at FanDuel are thoroughbred events. Next year’s calendar will be much more full at Hawthorne.

That course is planning 76 thoroughbred and 75 harness racing programs over most of 2022. Here are the rest of the details of the action at Hawthorne next year:

Thoroughbred racing schedule for 2022 at Hawthorne Race Course

  • Post times at 3:10 p.m. all days
  • April 2-30: Racing on Saturdays and Sundays
  • May 1-June 25: in addition to Thursday, June 23, racing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Sept. 23-Dec. 31: With the exception of Dec. 24 and 25, racing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

Harness racing schedule for 2022 at Hawthorne

  • Post times of 7:10 p.m. all days
  • Jan. 7-30: Racing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Feb. 3-March 20: Racing on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • July 1-Aug. 21: Racing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Live racing on June 30, Aug. 27-29, Sept. 1-4 and Sept. 8-11

If both tracks complete this entire program, the volume of races in 2022 will equal this year’s action. Arlington featured 220 total host programs this year. Hawthorne planned for 145 total programs in 2021. In 2022, Hawthorne plans exactly 365 total host programs.

While it may not be ideal, it represents the best-case scenario for horse racing enthusiasts in IL. The erasure of action at Arlington has the greatest impact on the very industry that made the venue famous.

Will there ever be horse racing at Arlington Park again?

Right now, all indications point toward that not being the case. The story is quite simple. Churchill Downs owns Arlington International. The same company also owns Rivers Casino in nearby Des Plaines.

Churchill Downs thus has an interest in keeping any competing casinos out of the Chicago metro. Although it no longer wants to own the property, it can select the buyer. That all adds up to Churchill Downs being very intentional about not selling the property to any party that wishes to develop the land as a casino or racino.

Right now, the most famous possible buyer is the Chicago Bears. It’s too early to tell how serious the NFL franchise is about purchasing the land and developing a suburban stadium on it. It could simply be a leverage play to improve their lease terms on Soldier Field.

For horse racing fans, though, that’s beside the point. The calendar for 2022 in IL certainly differs greatly from its predecessors in form, but perhaps not in function.

Photo by AP file photo
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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