Maywood Park hosts final harness race Friday

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Maywood Park held its final race Friday night. The racing venue closes permanently after nearly 70 years. (WLS)

It's the end of an era for Illinois harness racing, as Maywood Park held its final race before closing Friday night.

Horses have been racing here since 1946, but casinos have taken customers away from the track.

Affrunti is not a trainer here, but she's been coming to the track since she was a little girl. But after Friday night it may come to an end.

"It's scary, there's going to be a lot of jobs lost, I don't know what's going to happen," Affrunti said.

Maywood Park has no more racing on the schedule. The iconic track has been home to harness racing in for decades, but has seen the business shrink steadily over the years.

The purses have gotten smaller, and owners say the business has been losing money. So the Illinois Racing Board decided earlier this week not to award any racing dates for next year to Maywood or its sister track Balmoral Park in Crete.

Industry experts say they were counting on the state legislature to pass a gaming bill, which they believe could have provided the financial means to keep the tracks viable. Trainers say the closing of these tracks means the state will lose hundreds of jobs.

"There's a huge business behind horse racing and the legislature is letting these slip right out," said Ivar Hyngstrom, a trainer.

The Illinois Racing Board said while the decision was hard, they believe it is in the best interest of the Illinois racing industry. The vote was unanimous.

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