by Eric A Thomas
Place your bets! After a hiatus of one year because of, well, you know, “A Night at the Races” is making a return to Jacksonville on Saturday, November 6.
Come out and learn what all the excitement was back in 2019 when horse racing came to Jacksonville. Bogart’s Banquet Hall, 2142 E. State St., will be the scene again as Jacksonville Center for Independent Living (JACIL) host a fundraising night to help support their many efforts for people with disabilities to live an independent life. “Understandably we had to put the event on hold due to the pandemic that gripped the nation in 2020,” stated Judy Lakin, one of the event organizers and member of the board of directors. “Many of those in attendance our first time enjoyed it so much that they are ready to get their tickets again this year.”
This unique fundraising event made its debut in the area when JACIL brought it to town in 2019. “The group we are working with has been helping a variety of civic organizations nationwide for over six years,” remarked Lisa Viles, a member of the planning committee and JACIL employee who works in resource development. “We are thrilled that we can bring this exciting event back to Jacksonville and help a worthy cause at the same time.” The doors at Bogart’s will open at 6 p.m. and post time for the first race will be at 7 p.m. Masks are required for entry and two ASL interpreters will be available.
The main event is 10 actual horse races that have been pre-recorded, featuring thoroughbred and quarter horses. Before each race, patrons are given a “past performance” racing sheet describing the history of the horse, including how each of the horses have placed in previous races. All participants then place their betting tickets on the horse of their choice. All betting will be with play money, which you can purchase at the event. (An ATM is available.) The races will be shown on a brand-new large-screen TV, donated by Walmart, that will be raffled off at the end of the evening. The raffle tickets will be one for $5 or three for $12. You must be present to win or designate someone to pick it up for you.
Each race will feature commentary by professional racetrack announcers and show the horses parading to the post, loading in the gates, split screen close-ups, horses in the lead graphics, the tote board results, winning horse in the winner’s circle, slow-motion photo finish replays plus full graphics and commentary announcing the results of each race.
A new feature this year is geared toward race sponsorship. Businesses or individuals can sponsor one or more of the horse races. Cost will be $50 for each race. Whoever purchases a sponsorship will be the one and only sponsor for that race. All sponsors will have an individual banner created, plus they will be mentioned by name during the race they are sponsoring and also will be listed in the racing program. You may inquire by calling JACIL at 217-245-8371 or Lakin at 217-248-7460.
Event tickets will be sold until Friday, November 5. They are available through any JACIL board member or through the JACIL office located at 15 Permac Rd. The cost is $30 per ticket and that will include entry into the event, hors d’oeuvres and $10 in play money for betting. The event is limited to 200 people so first come, first served. Tickets will be available at the door but will not include $10 of play money for betting. All winnings will be paid out in U.S. currency.
“This event was so much fun in 2019 and we look forward to an even better time this year,” concluded Peggy Davidsmeyer, executive director of JACIL. “This is a great interactive event for you to have a fun evening out while at the same time, helping to make a difference in our community.”
JACIL is a nonprofit organization that serves people with all disabilities and their families by assisting them to gain the effective control and direction of their own lives in the home, in the workplace and in the community. It was established in 1997 and serves Cass, Mason, Morgan and Scott counties.