Thoroughbred racing returns to Arlington Park for its 78th season on Friday at 3 p.m. for the first of 94 days of racing that will continue at the northwestern Chicago oval through Sept. 18.Once again, the centerpiece of Arlington's season will be the one-day International Festival of Racing – this year scheduled for Aug. 13. The International Festival will showcase the 23rd running of the Arlington Million (gr. IT), run at 1 1/4 mile over Arlington's turf course. The Arlington Million has attracted champion grass runners from all over the world since its inception, and is one of a series of races run internationally that will make up this year's World Racing Championship.The Beverly D. (gr. IT), with a purse of $750,000 as the sister race to the Arlington Million, is restricted to grass running fillies and mares. The Beverly D. will observe its 16th running, while completing the trio of Illinois' only three grade I races will be the 28th renewal of the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes, limited to 3-year-old turf specialists.
The Secretariat is the final leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple, which commences with the Arlington Classic (gr. IIIT), presented by Woodford Reserve July 2, and continues with the American Derby (gr. IIT), presented by Jack Daniel's July 23. Other major event days to make up Arlington's 2005 stakes schedule worth more than $5.3 million include the Prairie State Festival for Illinois-bred horses June 25; and Million Preview Day July 23. The final day of the meet, Sept. 18, features Arlington's two premier events for 2-year-olds – the Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Futurity (gr. III) and the Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Lassie (gr. III).