Of greater interest to Illinois breeders, owners and trainers, Arlington again will host the Prairie State Festival for state-breds on Saturday, June 22. That day includes six stakes events, each worth $75,000.
Arlington Park plans to reschedule and enrich its stakes program this summer to provide a "Preview Weekend at the Park" before the Oct. 26 running of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.Arlington's stakes schedule--still subject to approval by the Illinois Racing Board--also shows the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) as being run at 1 1/16 miles. A spokesman said, however, that distance remains subject to review because the configuration of Arlington's track makes that distance difficult.The preview weekend packages the $150,000 Arlington- Washington Futurity (gr. III) and the $100,000 Arlington- Washington Lassie (gr. III) on Sept. 28 and the $400,000 Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) and the non-graded $150,000 Sea O Erin Breeders' Cup Mile on Sept. 29.The Futurity and the Lassie are for 2-year-old males and fillies, respectively. Each will be run as a one-turn mile out of the backstretch chute. The Washington Park Handicap is for 3-year-olds and up at 1 3/16 miles. The Sea O Erin is run on the grass.Arlington also will offer three supporting stakes on Breeders' Cup Day. The "Right Here Right Now" Safely Kept Handicap will be run at seven furlongs for fillies and mares. The Black Tie Affair Handicap, sponsored by the State of Illinois (which is providing tourism funding for Arlington's WTC presentation), will be for 3-year-olds and up at nine furlongs. And the Steinlen Handicap will find 3-year-olds and up trying 8 1/2 furlongs on the green course.Three $100,000 events will start the Breeders' Cup weekend on Friday, Oct. 25, and two more will close Arlington's season the day after the World Thoroughbred Championships.Arlington's normal summertime fixture, the International Festival of Racing, will be Saturday, Aug. 17. That package includes the Arlington Million (gr. IT), the $700,000 Beverly D. (gr. IT) for fillies and mares and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) for 3-year-old horses."Serving as host for this year's Breeders' Cup Thoroughbred World Championships will focus greater attention on our stakes schedule," said Frank Gabriel, Arlington's vice president of racing and operations.