1) The Arlington Million is a turf race run at 1 1/4 miles at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois just outside of Chicago. This year’s edition is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, the winner will qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November.
2) “The Million,” run for the first time in 1981, was the first Thoroughbred race to offer a purse of one million dollars.
3) Like other high stakes American turf races, the “Million” draws entrants from the more turf-oriented European racing circuit.
4) The inaugural race in 1981 still stands as one of the most memorable. Hall of Famer John Henry beat a horse named The Bart by a whisker at the wire. A year later, the nine-year-old gelding ran second. Three years later, in 1984, John Henry won the race again at the age of nine. He is the race’s only two-time winner.
5) The Arlington Park paddock has a bronze statue commemorating John Henry’s win in the first Arlington Million.
6) On July 31st, 1985, the grandstand and clubhouse at Arlington Park burned down. Twenty-five days later, 35,000 fans watched from temporary bleachers as Great Britain’s Teleprompter won that year’s Arlington Million. It is known as the “Miracle Million” for the seemingly impossible effort by the track’s operators to host the race after such a devastating fire.
7) In 1987, turf superstar Manila won the Arlington Million to round out a Hall of Fame resume that also included the United Nations Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf.
8) In 2004, the European shipper Powerscourt crossed the wire first but was disqualified for interference and placed fourth. In 2005, he returned to win the race for the legendary Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien.
9) Champion turf female Estrapade is the only filly or mare to ever win the Million. She did it in 1986 for trainer Charlie Whittingham, who also trained winners of the race in 1982 (Perrault) and 1990 (Golden Pheasant).
10) The race was not held in 1998 and 1999 when Arlington Park was shut down. In 1988, the race was run at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Canada.