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2018 Update

Wagering in Illinois goes way back before Pari-Mutual wagering was legalized in 1927, and if your looking for history this is the state. It would appear that Mrs. O'Leary's infamous cow must have been stabled at every Illinois track, as just about every one has burnt down at one time or another.

Most of Illinois racing centers around Chicago so it's no surprise how interesting that could be. There have been tracks opened tracks closed, devastating fires, now your a thoroughbred track no wait your a harness track and even a bit of Al Capone thrown in, not to mention the dealing of the Chicago political machine.

 Hawthorne Park which is still in existence started it all in the 1880's. Since then there have been many tracks that have come and gone on the Chicago circuit. Outside of Chicago a minor circuit developed in the 1920's outside of St. Louis and there was a short lived venture in the Quad City area in the 1980's. Ironically Quad City Downs sits intact till this day as an OTB site.

With the exception of Maywood Park which runs only Standardbreds all other Illinois tracks at one time or another ran both a thoroughbred and standardbred meet.

In 2011 there were few changes to the racing scenery, as all existing tracks showed up for duty. On the down side racino style gaming continues to be defeated, putting in question the survival of pari-mutual wagering in Illinois.

In 2012 things could be looking up in Illinois as legislation has finally passed to allow casino gaming in the state. How long this takes to make it a reality at the state's tracks remains to be seen. 

2018 Update

I guess the big news here is the collapse of harness racing in the state. At one time a few years ago, between  Balmoral and Maywood Parks they ran seven days a week, year round. With the failure to get racino style racing, both are now closed. Hawthorne stepped in to save harnesss racing in the state and alternates between thoroughbreds and standardbreds  throughout the year. The other Chicago track Arlington Park, runs it's traditional summer thoroughbred meet toped off with the Arlington Million. Arlington, is also trying to encourage new fans, by offering concerts and other events during the racing season. The other active track in the state, Fairmount Park still goes to the post, running a couple of days a week, during the summer. There have also been changes, to the tracks from the past.

As mentioned Balmoral Park and Maywood are both closed. Balmoral, I believe was being converted to an equine center, while Maywood is just dormant. Hawthorne's co-joined sister track, Sportsman Park is now a Wal-Mart. Churchill Down's closed their off track betting facility in Quad City, probably setting the stage for the destruction of Quad City Downs. As far as the other tracks on the original list, you wont find any sign that racing existed at Aurora Downs, Cahokia Downs, or Washington Park.