(Edited press release)
The winner of the 27th edition of the Aug. 8 Arlington Million (gr. IT) will receive an automatic invitation to participate in the $5.6 million Japan Cup (Jpn-I) Nov. 29 at Tokyo Racecourse, it was announced by the Japan Racing Association.
The Arlington Million is the only North American race to be selected for its winner to receive an automatic berth to the Japan Cup, joining such international group I fixtures as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Prix de’l Arc de Triomphe, Grosser Preis von Baden, Irish Champion Stakes.
“We are honored that the Japan Racing Association is offering the winner of the Arlington Million an automatic invitation to the prestigious Japan Cup which further emphasizes Arlington’s commitment to the expansion of international racing,” said Roy Arnold, Arlington Park president.
“We value our long standing friendship with the JRA and our international exchange races–-the Arlington Cup raced in Japan every March and the Hanshin Cup raced here at Arlington every summer. The Million is North America's premier turf race and we trust this opportunity will encourage the best horses in North America to make the trip to the Far East and compete in the premier race in Asia.”
Inaugurated in 1981, the same year as the Japan Cup, the Arlington Million was the first Thoroughbred horse race to offer a $1 million purse and has been won over the years by such stalwarts as U.S. 1981 and 1984 Horse of the Year John Henry; champion grass males Perrault (1982), Steinlen (1989), Tight Spot (1991), and Paradise Creek (1994); and champion grass female Estrapade (1986).
Golden Pheasant, winner of the 1990 Arlington Million, traveled overseas to take top honors in the 1991 Japan Cup, and he remains the only horse to win both races. The Japan Racing Association planted a cherry tree in the Arlington paddock area to commemorate the feat.