Arlington Park (Arlington Heights, IL)
(Racing Dates: 06/08/2020 - 09/06/2020)
Arlington International Racecourse (formerly Arlington Park) is a horse race track in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. Horse racing in the Chicago region has been a popular sport since the early days of the city in the 1830s, and at one time Chicago had more horse racing tracks (six) than any other major metropolitan area.
Arlington International was the site of the first thoroughbred race with a million-dollar purse in 1981. It is located near the Illinois Route 53 expressway.
The premier event at Arlington Park is the International Festival of Racing, held in early August, which features three Grade 1 races on turf: the Arlington Million Stakes, Beverly D. Stakes and Secretariat Stakes.
Arlington International Racecourse was founded as Arlington Park by California businessman Harry D. "Curly" Brown who would later serve as president of Oriental Park Racetrack in Havana, Cuba. The track officially opened in 1927 to 20,000 spectators. Jockey Joe Bollero, who later became a successful trainer, rode Luxembourg to victory in the first race ever run at Arlington.
Benjamin F. Lindheimer acquired control of Arlington Park in 1940 and owned it until his death in 1960. Long involved with the business, adopted daughter Marjorie Lindheimer Everett then took over management of the racetrack.
Widely respected Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Jones of Calumet Farms was quoted by Sports Illustrated as saying that Lindheimer "was the savior of Chicago racing" and that "Arlington Park became the finest track in the world—certainly the finest I've ever been on." Benjamin Lindheimer is well remembered as the person who promoted the 1955 match race broadcast by CBS Television in which Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Nashua defeated Kentucky Derby winner, Swaps.
Arlington was the first track to install a public-address system and employed the pioneering race caller Clem McCarthy to describe the action. It added the first electric totalisator which allowed a credible tote board and decreased time between races, in 1933. In 1936 it added a photo finish camera.
It introduced the first electric starting gate in 1940 and the largest closed circuit TV system in all of sports in 1967 (while Arlington is credited in some circles with the introduction of trifecta wagering in 1971, the New York Racing Association first offered the bet, known as "The Triple" a year earlier in 1970 and it was known as that because it was generally only offered on the last race of the day with limited exceptions until 1995 when two were offered by the NYRA tracks and they began using the term trifecta).
In June 1973, Arlington organized a race for 3-year-olds, the Arlington Invitational, to lure Secretariat to the mid-west. Secretariat won easily and Arlington created the Secretariat Stakes, also for 3-year-olds but on the turf, in his honor.
In 1981 Arlington was the home of the world's first million dollar thoroughbred race: The Arlington Million. The result of that race is immortalized in bronze at the top of the paddock at Arlington, where a statue of jockey Bill Shoemaker riding John Henry to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over 40-1 long shot The Bart celebrates Thoroughbred racing's inaugural million dollar race.
Arlington entered a new era when Richard L. Duchossois led an Illinois investment group to purchase the track from its former owners and made a pledge to continue presenting championship racing. That was tested on July 31, 1985, when a small fire spread quickly out of control and completely destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse.
Unsure of the future of Arlington, the meet was moved to Hawthorne Race Course. Yet it was announced that the Arlington Million would still be held at Arlington International. On August 25, 1985 they did just that by using temporary bleachers. The track fully reopened in 1989.
It briefly used the name "Arlington International Racecourse" before reverting to the old name, "Arlington Park". Arlington Park reverted to using Arlington International Racecourse starting in 2013.
In 2000, Arlington reopened after a two-year shutdown. In September of that year, Churchill Downs Incorporated completed its purchase of the track.
Arlington hosted the 2002 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at their track.
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