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Illinois racing on verge of extinction

Steam rising off their hulking bodies, a half-dozen standardbred horses power into position.

In front of two-wheeled sulkies on this arctic winter night in February, their hooves dig into frozen ground that’s covered with a thin layer of snow.

As the white limousine that holds out the starting gate starts to pull away, their dark, glossy eyes grow intense.

The drivers lean back in their seats and the animals pick up speed, reaching 35 mph and moving into free space until the gate releases them.

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