The 41-day Summer Festival of Racing began this week at Arlington Park with an overnight purse increase to an average of $275,000 per day. Through the first 20 days of the overall 2001 meeting, Arlington's average daily attendance hit 8,526, a 12.6% improvement over year ago figures of 7,571.
On track handle also posted gains of 8.3%, with an average $722,453 being wagered per day as opposed to $666,993 in 2000. Total handle gained 10.6% to an average of $2,976,235 daily.
"We are excited about the increase in purses during the Summer Festival of Racing and the effect that it will have on further improving the quality of racing," said Arlington Park CEO Scott Mordell. "The progress Illinois racing made in 2000 has carried over into our 2002 meet."
For the second straight season, Arlington's 102-day meet is being presented with a two-tier purse structure in order to offer a premier segment of the meeting and improve the level of competition, attracting horses from around the country to the track.
The Summer Festival is highlighted by the August 18 card, which will see the running of Illinois' only grade I races -- the Arlington Million, the $700,000 Beverly D., and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes. Million Preview Day on July 28 features the grade III $250,000 Arlington Handicap, the grade III $150,000 Modesty Handicap, and the $125,000 Round Table Stakes.