Fairmount Park Racetrack is a thoroughbred horse racing facility in Collinsville, Madison, and Claire County, Illinois, USA. Until 1999, the track was also home to Standardbred harness racing but was discontinued. As of 2020, the track is known as Fanduel Sportsbook and Horse Racing.
Currently, Fairmount Park is the only active racecourse outside of Chicago in the state. The venue organises live racing meets from April till early September. Races are held three days a week, including Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Here is a brief account of the Fairmount Park Racetrack’s history and facilities.
Fairmount Park Racetrack History
Fairmount Park opened its doors to the public on 26th September 1925. When the racecourse was built, it was envisioned as a mini version of Churchill Downs racecourse, a horse racing facility in Kentucky, USA. The facility was built across the river from St. Louis. It was and still is the only active horse racing track in Illinois outside of Chicago.
Fairmount once divided the season with the Cahokia Downs in the vicinity, which started in 1954. However, other racing venues in the area closed down due to increasing competition from riverboat casinos, but Fairmount Park continued its operations and fought for its survival. The racetrack also hosted a harness racing event for a long time, but it was discontinued in 1999. Fairmount Park was also the first-mile track to have lighting arrangements and hosted nighttime racing in 1947. The track’s grandstand was destroyed by fire in 1974.
Odgen Corporation, an industrial waste management company, acquired the track in 1969. Thirty-one years later, Odgen sold the racetrack to Ralston Purina, a St. Louis-based conglomerate chaired by Bill Stiritz then.
Upto 1997, Fairmount Park held races most days of the year. It is known that out of 365, 232 days were race days. However, around that time, many riverboat casinos were launched across the Mississippi River and its tributaries in Missouri and other St. Louis metropolitan areas. As a result, racing days declined greatly, and now races are held only 90 days a year, on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
The management strived to revive horse racing at Fairmount. In 2007, it was announced that an arena would be built on the venue with a seating capacity of 20,000. It was hoped that the amphitheatre would help increase live racing meets, and harness racing could also resume at the racetrack. The decision required approval from the state lawmakers for the installation of slot machines at the site, similar to other venues operating as racinos (horse racing and casinos). However, the lawmakers did not allow Fairmount’s management to install slot machines for the track’s regular session.
Consequently, the management requested the Illinois Racing Board to grant ninety days of live racing at the racetrack. It also requested relief for racing during November, non-racing days. The attendance at races had declined greatly due to competition from casinos and lower purses. Other tracks in Indiana and Kentucky neighbouring areas were paying larger purses. If the situation continued, the management planned to reduce its racing days to 60. The racing board approved the request for relief during the November prohibition period. In 2012, Illinois legislators approved racino-style betting at the Fairmount Park Racetrack.
As of 2020, the Fairmount Park Racetrack is known as Fanduel Sportsbook and Horse racing. Presently, the racecourse offers simulcast wagering from various tracks throughout the country. It also offers four off-track betting facilities in Sauget, Carbondale, Alton, and Springfield. There was also a fifth site in Grayville, which closed in 2007.
Fairmount Park Racetrack Facilities
Fairmount Park Racetrack has a standard 1-mile oval dirt track. The surface of the track comprises a mixture of sand and clay. A straight chute on each end of the track can accommodate 1 ¼-mile and 0.75 miles races. The track’s homestretch is around 320 metres long and 23 metres wide. The racecourse does not have a turf track.
The grandstand has a seating capacity of around 2200 people. Fairmount Park also offers various entertainments that pull crowds throughout the years. These include Clyde’s Court, Horse Hooky, Party at the Park, and other interesting events. Discounts are offered to attract larger crowds. A popular free game that all visitors can take part in is Racetrack Bingo. When visitors enter the venue, they are provided a random bingo card. Prizes up to $250 are offered to the winners.
The racetrack also features four dining venues. There is a pavilion at the trackside, which offers a buffet.
Fairmount Park racetrack Schedule & Fixtures
Live races are held three days a week, including Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. On Tuesdays, races are held in day time at 1:30 pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays, races are organised at night at 7:30pm.
Why is Fairmount Park Racetrack known as FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse racing?
In 2020, Fairmount Park partnered with FanDuel Group, a New York-based online sports wagering company. The partnership was done to expand sports betting and reinvest in the property to revive the facility. The name of the racetrack was changed to FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing.
Which races are held at Fairmount Park?
Fairmount is home to numerous ungraded races, including the Troy Our Boy Stakes and Pete Condelone Memorial Stakes. It was also once home to the signature Louisiana Derby. However, the race is discontinued on the racetrack.