Arlington Park Racecourse

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Arlington International Racecourse

Though the actual venue is officially known as Arlington International Racecourse, racing fans and locals often refer to it simply as Arlington Park. Founded in 1927, the track is currently owned by Churchill Downs Incoporated and hosts three Grade I stakes races as well as many other significant competitions through the course of the year.

Arlington Park will run races from the first weekend of May through to the end of September. It’s marquee events include the Arlington Million, Beverly D. Stakes, Secretariat Stakes and the American Derby.

Some of the most popular Arlington Park races are highlighted below:

Arlington Million

Arlington Classic Stakes

Stars and Stripes Turf

Beverly D. Stakes

Arlington Matron Hcp

Washington Park Hcp

Secretariat Stakes

Arlington Oaks

Arlington Sprint

American Derby

Arlington Handicap

American 1000 Guineas


Main Track: 1 1/8th Mile Dirt Track
Turf Track: 1 Mile Turf Oval
Seating: 50,000 (with extension)
Stables: 2,000+ horses

About Arlington Park

Arlington International Racecourse is traditionally known in and around the sport as “Arlington Park”. Located in a suburb just outside of Chicago, Illinois, this is one of the most important tracks in the Midwest. In fact, Arlington has been an extremely important location in terms of the history of American Thoroughbred Racing. A lot of firsts occurred at this storied venue.

The city of Chicago embraced horse racing as early as the 1830’s and a continued stream of success and support allowed for Arlington Park to be founded on October 13th, 1927. Leading the way was Harry “Curly” Brown, a California businessman who was able to open the venue to 20,000 public spectators on its first day.

In the 1940’s Arlington Park was acquired by the Lindheimer family who are credited with saving racing in Chicago. Benjamin Lindheimer and his daughter Marjorie Lindheimer Everett were the principals in charge of the track and created a world-class facility. With the Lindheimer family at the helm, Arlington Park became a venue for not only some of the biggest races in the sports, but also many of its most important innovations.

Arlington Park has also been credited as the first ever track to have a public-address system where announcers could commentate on the track to entertain the audience. Such a system allowed announcer Clem McCarthy to pioneer the live commentary that we enjoy to this very day.

In 1933 Arlington Park became the first track to have an electric totalisator, which allowed fans in the audience to see live updates on odds and racing results in real time. In 1936, Arlington Park also added a photo finish camera and in 1940 was the first track to use an electric powered starter’s gate as well.

The very first million dollar race was also hosted by Arlington Park in 1981 and was appropriately named the Arlington Million. The inaugural running of this race was won by jockey Bill Shoemaker and horse John Henry.

The track transitioned in to the hands of Richard L. Duchossois and a team of investors in 1985 before finally being acquired by Churchill Downs in 2000.

Arlington Park hosted the 2002 Breeders’ Cup.

Additional Information on Arlington Park

Arlington Park is the premier Thoroughbred racetrack in the Chicago area, located in the northwest suburb of Arlington Heights. Founded in 1927, it lays claim to a number of “firsts” in American racing.

The track is widely credited for being the first to install a public address system and electric totalisator, and was the first to use an electric starting gate. Arlington also played host to the first ever Thoroughbred race worth $1 million, the 1981 Arlington Million.

The Million, a 1 1/4-mile turf race, remains the track’s signature event. That race, along with the Beverly D. for fillies and mares and the Secretariat for three-year-olds, comprise the International Turf Festival, which is held every August.

The Secretariat honors the legendary colt whose first appearance after his record-breaking Triple Crown sweep in 1973 occurred at Arlington. Other Triple Crown winners to have competed at the track include Citation, Whirlaway, Omaha, and Gallant Fox.

For decades, races like the Arlington Classic and American Derby attracted many of the nation’s best three-year-olds, including Hall of Famers Native Dancer, Nashua, Buckpasser, Damascus, and Ack Ack. Arlington’s expansive and luscious turf course, acclaimed throughout the world, now plays host to the Classic and American Derby, as well as most of the track’s major events.

Other Thoroughbred icons that won at Arlington include turf legend Round Table and Dr. Fager, who ran a world-record mile in the 1968 Washington Park Handicap.

In the first several decades of its existence Arlington ran relatively short summer meets while sharing dates with a handful of other tracks in the metropolitan area. Consolidation, in particular with the old south side course of Washington Park in the 1960s, saw Arlington’s meet expand to cover much of the prime months of May through September.

The Arlington grandstand and clubhouse were destroyed by fire in 1985, shortly before the scheduled running of the Arlington Million. Due to the leadership of Richard Duchossois, the long-time head of the track, the remains of the building were removed and temporary facilities erected in time for the track to host the race on schedule. That year’s edition became known as the “Miracle Million.”

After one more year using temporary structures, Arlington closed in 1987-88 so a new, state-of-the-art grandstand could be built. Opened to wide acclaim in 1989, it remains one of the most modern in the sport.

While the current facility is smaller than the previous one, crowds of around 30,000 are common on Arlington Million Day. In 1996, more than 34,000 spectators at Arlington witnessed two-time Horse of the Year Cigar equal Citation’s achievement of winning 16 races in a row in the Arlington Citation Challenge, a race created specially for the occasion.

Churchill Downs Inc. acquired Arlington in late 2000 and, two years later, the track hosted the Breeders’ Cup before a crowd of more than 46,000.

Another significant change at Arlington this century was the conversion of the 1 1/8-mile main track from dirt to a synthetic Polytrack surface in 2007.