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Op-ed: Goodbye, Arlington International Racecourse, and good riddance

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Every reader has probably been to a wake or funeral and heard friends and family characterize a death as a “blessing” because so much suffering had been involved.

The same might apply to the recently departed Arlington International Racecourse whose last race day was Saturday, Sept. 25, and which will likely never host racing again. Churchill Downs put it up for sale, and the Chicago Bears signed a purchase agreement for the racecourse.

The suffering, which is thankfully coming to an end, is what I witnessed as a one-time security guard at Arlington, day in and day out by both the regulars, consisting of the same several thousand attendees who showed up at the track every day, and by those who visited only on occasion, mostly on weekends, for family entertainment.

But it’s unlikely that the regular attendees in recent years are much different from the ones I knew, such as the zombie-eyed laborers just off the night shift, retirees and the unemployed, with many of the classic symptoms of a compulsive gambler on joyless display. Neither the jockeys’ colorful silks, nor race announcer Phil Georgeff’s rhythmic recitations over the P.A., could cover up the tension, restlessness and irritability of those afflicted with a disease that destroys jobs, relationships and entire families, according to the Mayo........

© Chicago Tribune

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