It’s no secret Illinois is billions of dollars in debt, with every state subsidized industry receiving less money than in previous years. Horse racing is no exception, as funding for prize money has been reduced as much as 60 percent from what it was as far back as 1994.
It’s one reason why Arlington Park Race Course announced that races for the remainder of the 2013 season will run without jockeys.
“We’ll save at least $750,000 this year by not having to pay jockeys,” a track official told a local racing newspaper. “The savings will drop right to the bottom line.”
Some wondered how horses might race without the services of a jockey.
“One of the biggest myths ever perpetrated on the racing public is the notion that a jockey makes a difference,” said the official. “Half of these guys just hang on for the ride and collect a pretty good buck to do it.”
Racing fans were quick to criticize the track’s decision, but most understand considering the financial situation.
“At the track, between the cost of parking, admission and a racing form, it costs me over $20 before I place my first bet, and now this,” said Jack Purkey, a 40-year racing fan. “However, I figure I’ll be money ahead in the long run. Most of the little bastards can’t ride a bicycle, let alone a 1,200 pound animal.”
When asked what out-of-work jockeys will do for future employment, the benevolent Arlington Park spokesperson mused. “We’ve found plenty of work for them as lawn ornaments around the track and in the Barrington area.”