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Your guide to the Arlington Million held at the Arlington International Racecourse in Illinois.
Launched in 1981, the Arlington Million would famously become the first thoroughbred horse race with a prize fund of $1 million.
This race was the dream child of Joe Joyce, father of TVG’s Mike Joyce. Unlike many of the biggest horse races, it would run over turf, ensuring more of an international field.
The Arlington Million would quickly receive Grade I status after just two renewals due to the high quality of the field.
The 2019 Arlington Million will take place on Aug. 10, 2019, as part of the Arlington International Festival of Racing.
This guide is organized into the following sections to give you a complete rundown of the Arlington Million:
While there is no formal qualification process for the Arlington (unlike the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup), the race will always attract a high-quality field and several international entries. The race is open to horses ages 3 and older, and have a weight for age allowance.
The Arlington Million is part of the Breeder’s Cup challenge series, where winners of named races will gain automatic berths in the starting lineup of specified races.
The winner of the Arlington Million is awarded a place in the Breeders’ Cup Turf race, the second most valuable race in the series with a prize fund of an incredible $4 million.
The Arlington International Racecourse is still known as Arlington Park by locals; the name was given to the track when it first opened in 1927.
This racetrack is located in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago. Chicago has been a hotbed of racing since the early part of the 19th century, with up to six tracks once upon a time, more than any other metropolitan area.
There are two tracks at Arlington International Racecourse. There is the dirt oval, which has a total distance of 1 1/8 mile, and the turf oval that has a length of exactly 1 mile.
The first race run at the track saw jockey Joe Bollero ride Luxembourg to victory in front of a packed crowd of 20,000 spectators.
The track would lead the way in offering many pioneering spectator-friendly ideas. It was the first to install a public address system, employing the famous race caller Clem McCarthy to describe the action. The track also added an electronic totalizator, was the first to install photo-finish camer2as, the first electronic starting gate and the largest closed-circuit TV system of all sports.
In 1973, Arlington Park set up Arlington Invitational with the aim of luring the legendary Secretariat to run in the race. This plan worked, and spectators saw the horse duly win in dominating fashion.
Every August, Arlington International Racecourse plays host to the Arlington International Festival of Racing. On this day, as well as the Arlington Million, the course also plays host to two further Grade I races:
The Beverly D. Stakes: A $600,000 Grade I race for fillies and mares ages 3 and older, which run over a distance of 1 3/16th mile. The winner qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup fillies and mares race.
The Secretariat Stakes: Named in honor of the famed horse that graced Arlington Park, the Secretariat Stakes is a Grade I race for 3-year-olds. The race is run over turf and has a prize fund of $450,000.
Both the Illinois Derby (first run in 1968) and the Hawthorne Gold Cup (first run in 1928), both run at Hawthorne, have played significant roles on the Illinois horse racing scene over the years. However, these have only been run once since the 2015 races, so watch this space to see if they will make a regular return.
Your easiest option when placing a bet on the Arlington Million is to head online and find a legal betting site.
It’s always a good idea to stick to the regulated sites. Below is a list of three horse betting sites that are considered to be the best in the industry.
TVG also focus purely on horse betting and offer a vast range of live streaming (you can also sign up for its TV channels). When you join TVG, you can take advantage of a a risk free bet of up to $200 using the promo code FALL1.
The best way to bet on and enjoy the Arlington Million is to attend the Arlington International Festival of Racing. Race day features two other fantastic Grade I races. Head to one of the many tellers at the track and place your wager.
If you can’t make it to the race, you could head to another track for simulcast racing. Watch the action from Arlington on the screen and cheer your selection(s) home. Off-track betting (OTB) sites are available throughout the country.
The Arlington Million first made headlines due to the incredible prize money on offer. You could grab a piece of the action by placing a bet yourself.
The most popular wagers at any race are the win, place and show bets.
The win bet pays out (clearly) when your selection wins the race.
The place bet wins when your selection finishes in the first two.
The show bet requires your selection to finish in the first three.
If you wager a place or show bet, there is no bonus for the selection finishing first. You’ll receive exactly the same payout whether your chosen horse finishes first, second or third (in the case of a show bet).
The returns are calculated based upon the money in the pari-mutuel pool. The more people that bet on one particular horse, the lower the payout. If a selection has just a handful of wagers, you could see an incredible return as the total pool is split among fewer winners.
Exotic wagers on the Arlington Million include the exacta, trifecta and the superfecta.
The exacta requires you to predict the 1-2, while the trifecta and the superfecta require you to pick the 1-2-3 and 1-2-3-4, respectively. The superfecta can pay out some incredible returns (as you can see from the prize chart from 2018).
Arlington Million 2018 payouts
|1st Robert Bruce||$7.20||$3.80||$3.20|
|3rd Catcho En Die||$9.80|
The Arlington Million was first run back in 1981 and immediately made waves in the horse racing industry.
The prize fund of a million dollars was a new high mark for horse racing in the US, and this brought significant media attention. The race attracted some of the best thoroughbreds in the country. Within two years, the horse racing authorities were convinced of its quality, which resulted in the award of the coveted Grade I status.
Twelve runners lined up in 1981, and the race lived up to the hype. The Bart led down the home stretch only to see 6-year-old John Henry arrive on the line in a photo-finish. John Henry was a history maker in the race in other ways, too.
In 1984, John Henry claimed the race at age 9, becoming the only multiple winner of the Arlington Million, as well as the oldest winner.
Being a turf race, the Arlington Million has attracted many international contenders from countries where racing is predominantly on grass. The French runner Perrault won the second renewal of the race in 1982, while the Irish Tolomeo passed the finish line first in 1983.
The 1985 race was famously run against the backdrop of a burnt-out grandstand after a fire had broken out less than a month before. In 1988, the race was run at Woodbine (Toronto) due to repair works on the grandstand, and in 1998 and 1999, there was no Arlington Million due to the closure of the racecourse.
The million-dollar prize fund is a massive part of the attraction of the race. The winner receives 60% of the fund, ensuring a payout of a cool $600,000. As well as the cash, the winner will be presented with the Arlington Million trophy.
This trophy stands 24 inches tall and is 30 inches in diameter, in the shape of a bowl. The base of the award features eight Greek columns and is entirely made of silver.
The winning owner receives a replica trophy to keep, while the winning jockey and trainer also receive trophies. A blanket of flowers is placed over the winning horse, a striking combination of red and white carnations.
The fastest time was set in 1985 when Awad, ridden by Eddie Maple, clocked a time of 1:58.69.
Perrault won the second edition of the race in 1982 in a time of 1:58.80, making it the second quickest running ever.
In 1986 Estrapade, ridden by Fernando Toro, won the race by an impressive 5 lengths. The Kentucky-bred horse took up the lead with half a mile to go and put in a dominant front-running performance, pulling away from the pack in the final stretch.
Amazingly, in the nearly 40-year history of the race, no single jockey has managed to win three times.
Although six jockeys have achieved two wins:
Chad Brown is looking to achieve an unprecedented fourth win in 2019 and the first-ever hat trick of wins.
Three trainers have won the Arlington Million three times:
Tolomeo, at age 3, was the youngest winner in 1983. The following year saw the other extreme with John Henry winning at age 9.
When the Arlington Million was introduced in 1981, it was a groundbreaking event which made waves throughout horse racing.
While the million-dollar purse is no longer the richest prize in the sport, the race continues to create drama, tension and excitement for the Arlington International Racecourse crowd to this day.
The race is one of the premier turf events of the year attracting an international field and racing fans from all around the world.