Meanwhile in … Chicago: Arlington Million name lost as prize is slashed

Horse Racing Arlington
Racing at Arlington: the famous track is on the market. Photo:

Prize-money is slashed to $600,000 for probable final season as ‘Mr. D’ is honoured

USA: The black clouds swirling around Arlington Park for some time crystallised last month when the track’s owners Churchill Downs Incorporated put the venue on the market as “a unique redevelopment opportunity”.

In that context, CDI’s commitment to running this summer’s meet offered only cold comfort – after all, it looks set to be the last time anyone will set foot on Chicago’s most hallowed racecourse.

Still, at least there remained the prospect of one final edition of the storied Arlington Million, the showpiece of the track’s annual International Festival of Racing in August, postponed in 2020 for economic reasons with the purse money spread around lesser races.

Nicholas Godfrey on … Arlington up for sale: the dollar rules as real estate trumps racing history. Again.

Lest we forget, the famous turf contest was the world’s first million-dollar race – hence the name – when it was inaugurated in 1981.

The Million, and its host track, have become synonymous with ‘Mr D’, the businessman Richard Duchossois, who turns 100 in October 2021 whose drive, dream and ambition turned Arlington into the most outward-looking venue in North America. 

As is right and proper, Mr D will be honoured on this year’s revived Arlington Festival card on August 14, where seven stakes have been carded.

Yet sadly it seems the Arlington Million is unlikely to be going out in any blaze of glory. In fact, look at the conditions book and you won’t find its name. 

Instead, a race with the same conditions named the Mister D Stakes fills the G1-shaped hole – with a denuded prize fund of only $600,000. 

No wonder they had to change the name from the ‘Million’. In the meantime, can somebody remind us what it is they say about exiting with a whimper rather than a bang?

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