Arlington Heights, Illinois 60006
Arlington Park is a horse race track in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. Horse racing in the Chicago region has been a popular sport since the early days of the city in the 1830s, and at one time Chicago had more horse racing tracks (six) than any other major metropolitan area. Arlington Park was the site of the first horse race with a million-dollar purse in 1981.
Arlington Park was founded by California businessman Harry D. "Curly" Brown who would later serve as president of Oriental Park Racetrack in Havana, Cuba. The track officially opened in 1927 to 20,000 spectators. Jockey Joe Bollero, who later became a successful trainer, rode Luxembourg to victory in the first race ever run at Arlington.
Arlington was the first track to install a public-address system and employed the pioneering race caller Clem McCarthy to describe the action. It added the first electric totalisator which allowed a credible tote board and decreased time between races, in 1933. In 1936 it added a photo finish camera. It introduced the first electric starting gate in 1940, the largest closed circuit TV system in all of sports in 1967 and the introduction of trifecta wagering in 1971.
In 1981 Arlington was the home of the world's first million dollar thoroughbred race: The Arlington Million. The result of that race is immortalized in bronze at the top of the paddock at Arlington, where a statue of jockey Bill Shoemaker riding John Henry to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over 40-1 long shot The Bart celebrates thoroughbred racing's inaugural million dollar race.
Arlington entered a new era when Richard L. Duchossois led an Illinois investment group to purchase the track from its former owners and made a pledge to continue presenting championship racing. That was tested on July 31, 1985, when a small fire spread quickly out of control and completely destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse.
Unsure of the future of Arlington, the meet was moved to Hawthorne Race Course. Yet it was announced that the Arlington Million would still be held at Arlington Park. On August 25, 1985 they did just that by using temporary bleachers. The track fully reopened in 1989.
In 2000, Arlington reopened after a two-year shutdown. In September of that year, Churchill Downs Incorporated completed its purchase of the track.
Arlington hosted the 2002 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at their track.
The track has a one mile and one-eighth dirt oval and a one mile turf oval. The track is capable of seating at least 50,000 with extension. There is stabling on the backstretch for over 2,000 horses.
Arlington Park replaced its dirt course with a synthetic track prior to the opening of the 2007 season.