Ten Things to Know Before You Go: Arlington Million

Events / Travel
Fans enjoy the day at the Arlington Million in 2015 at Arlington International Racecourse. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

Chicago is a must-visit city for so many reasons — pickles on hot dogs, Wrigley field, the Bean — but on the second Saturday of August 2019, it becomes a bucket-list destination for horse lovers worldwide. That’s because it’s Arlington Million weekend, and if you’re heading to Arlington International Racecourse for the big day, we have 10 things to know before you go.

1. The Arlington Million earns its winner a spot in the World Championships.

A victory in the Arlington Million earns that horse a spot in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, and that brings horses from all over the world to Chicago.

2. This year’s race is shaping up to be a great one!

3. Arlington International is one tenacious track.

#nmrhofclassof2019 Richard L. “Dick” Duchossois, 97, was born in Chicago on Oct. 7, 1921. He attended Washington and Lee University for two years before serving in World War II. Duchossois served in five European campaigns, including Normandy under Gen. George Patton, where he was a commander with the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion. He attained the rank of Major before being discharged and was awarded a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. In 1983, Duchossois purchased Arlington Park and helped the track garner international acclaim through the continued development of its signature event, the Arlington Million. The Million brought tremendous popularity to Arlington with a purse double that of the Kentucky Derby in its early years, attracting horses such as two-time winner John Henry. Under the direction of Duchossois, Arlington became the first track to win the Special Eclipse Award in 1985 when it produced the “Miracle Million,” successfully running the marquee race less than a month after a major fire devastated the track. Duchossois was presented a Special Eclipse Award in 1989 and the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2003. Arlington played host to the Breeders’ Cup in 2002, and the Arlington International Festival of Racing remains one of the top draws of elite foreign horses to America each year. In 2000, Arlington merged with Churchill Downs, Inc., with Duchossois maintaining a prominent role on the board of directors. A member of The Jockey Club, Duchossois has served many organizations in the sport, including the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations. He was awarded The Jockey Club’s Gold Medal in 1986, a Special Sovereign Award from The Jockey Club of Canada in 1988, and the Lord Derby Award in Great Britain, also in 1988. . . . . . #nmrhof #museum #halloffame #pillarsoftheturf #purpleheart #WWII #ArlingtonPark #ArlingtonMillion #JohnHenry #RichardLDuchossois #EclipseAward #MiracleMillion #BreedersCup #TheJockeyClub #thoroughbredracing #thoroughbred #horse #equine

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The Arlington Million has been running since 1981, but the 1985 edition almost didn’t happen. Arlington Park’s grandstand burned to the ground 25 days before the 1985 Million. The track’s owner, Richard Duchossois, sprang into action, and did everything in his power to make sure the Arlington Million would run. Known as the Miracle Million, that race solidified Arlington International Racecourse’s reputation as a racetrack with heart.

4. The Arlington Million is the pinnacle event on a great day of racing.

The Arlington Million is the crown of the day on Saturday, but be sure to get to the track with plenty of time to see the undercard races: after all, the Beverly D. Stakes is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf; plus the Secretariat Stakes, the Pucker Up Stakes, and the Bruce D. Memorial Stakes will all take place on Saturday.

5. There’s an amazing fashion contest.

If you love dressing up for the races, you’re going to adore the Arlington Best Dressed Contest! There are prizes for the top-three, best-dressed men and women, so get ready to strut your stuff!

6. Go check out the statue.

Saturday’s are for the races

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Arlington is home to one of my favorite statues in sport: called “Against All Odds,” the sculpture commemorates John Henry’s unlikely and gutsy victory in the inaugural Arlington Million, and it gives me goose bumps every time I see it.

7. You may just win some free money.

Us after we won $30 #ArlingtonMillion

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This year, Arlington is giving away Million Mystery Vouchers with $5,000 in coupons randomly released from wagering machines.  If you happen to get a randomly generated coupon, just take your coupon to Arlington University Main Campus to draw a betting voucher – it could be anything between $5 and $500! No one’s ever mad at free money.

8. There are plenty of ways to spend Million day at Arlington Park.

Whether you’re into box seats or the back yard, there’s something for everyone at Arlington Park. Want to learn more? Click here to see your options ranging from the VIP Lounge to the Million Beer Bash.

9. Getting there is easy.

While it’s very easy to drive to Arlington International, you have so many other options! If you’re planning in indulge in a drink or two, you can take Uber or Lyft (or whatever your favorite rideshare app is!) or take the Metra Pacific Northwest Line, which has a stop right at Arlington International!

10. The food at Arlington is sensational.

If you love food, you’re going to love Arlington! They have amazing dining options from white-linen service in the Million Room to a fabulous food court that includes vegan and gluten-free options. You can check out everything on offer here; just be sure to come hungry!

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