How And Where To Bet On Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby In Illinois

Written By Joe Boozell on April 26, 2021 - Last Updated on August 24, 2021

Horse racing season is here, and two of the three Illinois’ tracks will begin live racing this week. And, of course, the 147th Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday.

FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing kicks off its first racing season on Tuesday, while Arlington International Racecourse starts its potentially last season on Friday.

This year is the first in which FanDuel Sportsbook is operating the Collinsville horse track, formerly known as Fairmount Park.

Let’s take a look at where you can bet on Illinois horse races in person, and quickly preview the Kentucky Derby.

2021 Illinois horse racetracks

There are three active horse racing tracks in 2021. They are:

  • Hawthorne Race Course (Stickney)
  • FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing (Collinsville)
  • Arlington International Racecourse (Arlington Heights)

Hawthorne Race Course

Thoroughbred races began at Hawthorne in March and run on the weekends.

On May 7, harness racing will start. There will be races on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the end of September.

Hawthorne is also home to PointsBet Sportsbook, and will eventually operate a full-blown “racino” at the facility.

FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing

FanDuel will kick off its racing season on April 27. There will be two racing days per week through May 31, and those will be Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Starting June 1, FanDuel will add Fridays to the weekly racing schedule. Those races will run through Sept. 6. If the name doesn’t give it away, patrons can also bet on sports while they’re at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Arlington International Racecourse

Finally, Arlington will hold races starting Friday. It will host races on Fridays and Saturdays until June 1, when it will expand to three days per week. The extra races will occur on Thursdays.

There will be four racing days per week from July 1-Aug. 31, before reverting to three days per week through September.

Since Arlington is for sale, this could be the last year in which horse racing takes place at the historic venue. The buyer may not use the space for horse racing.

Luckily for fans, there will be ample opportunity to watch races at Arlington in 2021.

How to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Illinois

The first of the Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby, is on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

If you’re looking to wager on the race, you won’t find markets on your typical IL sports betting apps. Instead, an app called TVG is your best bet.

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It is free and legal in Illinois. FanDuel also owns TVG, and you can bet on many more horse races than the Kentucky Derby with TVG.

We won’t have official Kentucky Derby odds until the draw takes place, and that is scheduled for Tuesday morning. With that said, Essential Quality, Rock Your World and Known Agenda are expected to be among the favorites.

The Kentucky Derby will air on NBC at 5:50 p.m. CST, and there are undercard races for most of the day beforehand.

Photo by Paul Beaty / AP
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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