The International Festival of Racing, featuring the 27th running of the grade I Arlington Million, tops a 2009 schedule that includes 27 stakes races worth $5,325,000 during 98 days of racing at Arlington Park from May 1 through Sept. 27.
Arlington's International Festival of Racing will be run Aug. 8, and features three grade I stakes, all scheduled to be run over Arlington’s turf course – the $1,000,000 Arlington Million for 3-year-olds & older; the $750,000 Beverly D. for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and older; and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Other major event days include the American 1000 Guineas Festival on May 23, when there will be four stakes races worth a total of $600,000 topped by the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas; the $600,000 Prairie State Festival for Illinois-bred horses on June 20; an expanded Million Preview Day on July 11; and stakes tripleheaders on Sept. 5 and Labor Day, Sept. 7 when the track presents its annual Turf Showcase card.
Million Preview Day includes major prep races for all three International Festival events. The grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap serves as the final local prep race for the Arlington Million while the grade III $200,000 Modesty Handicap carries the same role for the Beverly D., and the grade II $300,000 American Derby leads into the Secretariat Stakes. The Modesty and American Derby each had its purse increased by $50,000.
Three additional grass stakes races will be held that afternoon – the $200,000 Arlington Sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs and two overnight stakes races, the $60,000 Diamond Ring Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles and the $60,000 Pink Ribbon for fillies and mares 3-years-old and older at five furlongs. Total purses available on Million Preview Day top $1 million, making it the second richest day on Arlington’s 2009 calendar.
Returning to the schedule after a year’s absence is the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III), the $300,000 event will be run Sept. 5 at a mile and three-sixteenths over Arlington’s Polytrack and serves as a major prep for the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). The Washington Park will share top billing that afternoon with the $200,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity for 2-year-olds at one mile on the main track and its sister race the $150,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie.
Labor Day Monday will be highlighted by the third annual Turf Showcase when nearly the entire card will be raced over Arlington’s world famous turf course. The grassy program will include three stakes races – the grade III $200,000 Pucker Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile and an eighth, the grade III $175,000 Stars and Stripes Handicap for older horses at a mile and a half, and the $150,000 Sea o’Erin Handicap for 3-year-olds and older at a mile.
Two other graded stakes will be presented during Arlington’s 2009 season – the grade III $150,000 Chicago Handicap, for fillies and mares at seven furlongs on Polytrack, which will top the Independence Day holiday card; and the grade III $100,000 Arlington Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies at a mile and an eighth on the main track, which will be run July 18.