CHICAGO (CBS)– After nearly a century, time is winding up on the horse racing dynasty at Arlington Park.
The crown jewel is closing its doors after races on Saturday, with an uncertain future. It’s a bittersweet goodbye for the hundreds of workers and horsemen who’ve called Arlington home for decades.READ MORE: RealTime Weather Alert: Wet and Windy Monday Morning, Flooding Possible
As Arlington International Racecourse reaches its finish line, horse owners who’ve trained thoroughbreds here for years are reminiscing on a stable of fond memories to smile through a sad time.
“This has been our home, a family home, y Grandpa owned horses out here,” Horse trainer Rony Rallo said. “For it to go away is a real dagger to the industry, a dagger to my family and to the horsemen who supported Illinois horse racing over many many years. It’s gonna be a life changer for us all, and not a good life changer.”
“Saturday’s the last day, it’s bittersweet for sure and definitely sad,” Larry Rivelli said. “A lot of people around here don’t want to see it go.READ MORE: 3 Killed, 24 Wounded In Weekend Shootings Across Chicago
Track owner, Churchill Downs, has long made public its intentions to sell Arlington Park with the Chicago Bears at the top of the list to buy the behemoth 326 acre property.
Plenty of space to build a new team-controlled stadium and other revenue generating amenities. With no races scheduled for 2022, the disappointing end of the road at Arlington has become a reality.
The last race will have fireworks afterwards, to prolong the end just a little longer.
The crux of Arlington closing down is the booming gambling industry. Downs owns nearby Rivers Casino, and doesn’t want wagering competition so close.MORE NEWS: Man, Woman Shot In Vehicle On Kedzie Avenue In East Garfield Park
Horse owners hope to catch on at Hawthorne Racecourse on the Southwest Side, but there’s simply not enough dates to go around.