Jockey Channing Hill, who has hung his tack at Arlington Park for the 2012 racing season, will ride in Saudi Arabia and Dubai for six months following the Sept. 8 weekend.
Hill, 25, will leave the Chicagoland area and spend a brief period at Belmont Park before beginning an overseas contract that ends April 1, 2013. He will ride in Saudi Arabia and then in Dubai when the 2012-2013 meeting opens in November at Meydan.
"It's going to give me the opportunity to expand my riding skills, enjoy an excellent financial experience and get the feel of different countries," said HIll. "Hopefully I'll come back for another Arlington meet next year. I loved my time here this year because the people were all so gracious in welcoming me, and the management treats the horsemen so well. Coming back to Arlington next summer is most definitely my first option right now."
Hill, who has ridden at the major East Coast tracks in New York and Maryland, punctuated his time on those circuits with a win at Saratoga Race Course in the Forego Handicap (gr. I) and in Maryland with victories in the Barbara Fritchie (gr. II) and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II).
Although Hill won with his first mount during his first summer riding at Arlington, his luck suffered a setback. His business was compromised before the season was half over due to the altered plans of an agent who had taken his book, but left him suddenly to represent another rider.
That unexpected development ended up having something of a domino effect on the Nebraska native's own expected riding engagements at the Illinois oval.
"I didn't think it was right for me to leave right after those things happened," Hill said. "I wanted to show people that when things got tough I had the ability to stick it out, and I also thought the idea of leaving (trainer) Danny Peitz in the lurch really stunk. If it hadn't been for Danny and the business he gave me, I would have been swimming uphill all summer. Danny and his wife Sandy are two of the best people I know. There was no way I could run out on commitments like that.
"Fortunately, before I came to Arlington I had responded to some feelers about a chance to ride in the Middle East, and going into the meet here I had left open the possibility to say 'yes' at a later date."
Hill, who was a finalist for the 2005 Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding apprentice jockey, is the son of former jockey Alan Hill.
Through Sept. 7, Hill had ridden 7,475 starters, with 736 wins, 825 seconds, and 957 thirds from 2003-2012. His mounts have brought in earnings of $29,998,677.