Arlington Park

Arlington International Racecourse (formerly Arlington Park, the name was Arlington Park Jockey Club from as soon as 1948 up to 1955[citation needed]) 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[citation needed]. Arlington International was the site of the first thoroughbred race with a million-dollar purse in 1981. It is located near the Illinois Route 53 expressway. It was serviced by the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.

Arlington International Racecourse
2016 Arlington International Globe.png
LocationArlington Heights, Illinois
Owned byChurchill Downs Inc.
Date openedOctober 13, 1927
Capacity35,000 seats
12,000 clubhouse seats
Race typeFlat
Course typePolytrack
Notable racesArlington Million Stakes (G1)
Beverly D. Stakes (G1)
Secretariat Stakes (G1)
American Derby
Official website

The premier event at Arlington Park is the International Festival of Racing, held in early August, which features three Grade 1 races on turf: the Arlington Million Stakes, Beverly D. Stakes and Secretariat Stakes.

Owner Churchill Downs Inc. announced plans in February 2021 to sell all 326 acres of Arlington Park property for redevelopment.[1]


The grandstand at Arlington International Racecourse, Arlington Heights, Illinois

Arlington International Racecourse was founded as Arlington Park by California businessman Harry D. "Curly" Brown who would later serve as president of Oriental Park Racetrack in Havana, Cuba.[2] 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.

Benjamin F. Lindheimer acquired control of Arlington Park in 1940 and owned it until his death in 1960.[3] Long involved with the business, adopted daughter Marje Lindheimer Everett then took over management of the racetrack.[4][5] Widely respected Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Jones of Calumet Farms was quoted by Sports Illustrated as saying that Lindheimer "was the savior of Chicago racing" and that "Arlington Park became the finest track in the world—certainly the finest I've ever been on." [4]

On July 5, 1948, Citation won the Stars and Stripes Stakes in his first appearance since winning the Triple Crown. He equalled the track record at the time by winning in 1:49 1/5.

On June 24, 1952, jockey Eddie Arcaro becomes the first American jockey to win 3,000 races.

After 1955, seating capacity was increased to 30,000 and parking facilities expanded to accommodate 15,000.

In 1960 a new paddock was unveiled.

In 1964, Arlington Park inherits the thoroughbred race dates of Washington Park, who is now exclusively running harness races.

In 1966, future Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. gets his first American victory.

In 1968, the future Hall of Famer Dr. Fager wins the one-mile Washington Park Handicap in world record time of 1:32 1/5. He carried 143 pounds and held that record until 1998.

In 1968, Marje Everett sold the racetrack to Gulf & Western, remaining as director. In 1969, she was accused of bribing Illinois Governor Otto Kerner Jr.. The alleged bribes were in the form of stock options in 1961 that Kerner bought at a reduced price and then sold in 1968 at a profit. Kerner was eventually convicted of mail fraud, but Everett denied at trial that she intended to bribe him, and the government never identified her as a briber.[6]

In June 1973, Arlington organized a race for 3-year-olds, the Arlington Invitational, to lure Secretariat to the mid-west. Secretariat won easily and Arlington created the Secretariat Stakes, also for 3-year-olds but on the turf, in his honor.[7]

In 1981 under the direction of track president Joseph Joyce Jr., 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 in 1983 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 International. On August 25, 1985, they did just that by using temporary bleachers. Joyce resigned in 1986 after disagreements with Duchossois.[8] The track fully reopened in 1989 under a new name, Arlington International Racecourse.

In 1996, 34,000 fans jammed into Arlington to see the two-time Horse of the Year and future Hall of Famer Cigar tie the modern day record of 16 consecutive wins in the Arlington Citation Challenge.

Due to contract disputes, Arlington went dark and had no racing in 1998 and 1999.

In 2000, Arlington reopened after a two-year shutdown. In September of that year, Churchill Downs Incorporated completed its purchase of the track. In 2001, Arlington reopened as Arlington Park but returned to Arlington International Racecourse in 2013.[9]

Racing on the polytrack at Arlington International Racecourse, on Memorial Day Weekend of year 2007

Arlington hosted the 2002 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at their track.

In 2007 to promote safer racing, Arlington International Racecourse invested $11 million to install a synthetic racing surface called Polytrack which is still used today.[10] Do the Wave won the first race on the Polytrack on May 4. On May 11, Arlington debuts an alternate finish line at the 1/16 pole.

In 2016, Arlington debuted the Arlington Racing Club, an ownership group with the goal to garner interest in thoroughbred ownership.

Reality TelevisionEdit

On May 14, 2010, Lee DeWyze, a citizen of Mount Prospect, Illinois, and a contestant on American Idol, performed a concert at Arlington Park for approximately 41,000 fans. Also on May 14, Arlington is featured in an episode of Undercover Boss where Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen goes to Arlington and Calder Race Course.

A year later, on May 14, 2011, Haley Reinhart, of Wheeling, Illinois, also made the top 3 on American Idol. She, like DeWyze, had a hometown concert at the track for nearly 30,000 of her own fans and supporters.

Pioneers in RacingEdit

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 totalizator 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 and the largest closed circuit TV system in all of sports in 1967. In 1971, Arlington held the industry's first commercially sponsored race—the $100,000 Pontiac Grand Prix. On July 4, 1976, Arlington hosted the first races on a Sunday in Illinois.

While Arlington is credited in some circles with the introduction of trifecta wagering in 1971, the New York Racing Association first offered the bet a year earlier as "The Triple".

Planned redevelopmentEdit

In August 2019, track owner Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) announced that it would consider options to transfer racing away from Arlington Park after 2021. The announcement stemmed from the enactment of the Illinois Gaming Act, which provided for the legalization of sports wagering and the construction of new casinos in Illinois. The law gave CDI the right to install up to 1,200 gaming positions, such as slot machines, at Arlington Park. However, CDI - which had acquired a majority stake of Rivers Casino in nearby Des Plaines earlier that year and had already announced plans to expand it - argued that the installation of gaming positions at Arlington would result in higher tax payments of up to 20% compared to nearby casinos because of contributions needed to fund horse racing purses.[11]

In February 2021, CDI announced plans to sell the entire Arlington Park property for redevelopment. CDI said they would also seek the transfer of Arlington's racing license to another track in the state, but committed to Arlington's race dates for 2021 (April 30-September 25).[1] In response, the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (which represents thoroughbred owners and trainers at both Arlington and Hawthorne) denounced CDI's decision, alleging that CDI "all but abandoned any meaningful commitment to Illinois racing" after their majority acquisition of Rivers Casino.[12]

Physical attributesEdit

The Arlington grandstands

The track has a one-mile and one-eighth dirt oval and a one-mile turf oval. There is stabling on the backstretch for over 2,000 horses.

Arlington replaced its dirt course with a synthetic track prior to the opening of the 2007 season.

TV personalitiesEdit


Arlington's live racing season currently runs from the first Friday in May to the second to last Saturday in September. Since 2001, races at Arlington have been announced by John G. Dooley.

The following stakes were held at Arlington in 2019.

Grade I

Grade III


Former Races


  1. ^ a b Heinzmann, David (23 February 2021). "Arlington Park horse racing track is up for sale". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  2. ^ "Arlington Heights, IL". Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Benjamin F. Lindheimer Dead; Owned 2 Chicago Race Tracks; Operator of Washington Park and Arlington Organized Foundation From Receipts". Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Sports Illustrated, June 27, 1960". Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Horse Racing". Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  6. ^ Marje Everett dies at 90; legendary figure in horse racing - Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times, 24 March 2012
  7. ^ "Stakes Histories - Secretariat Stakes" (PDF). Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  8. ^ Arlington Park's top brass to resign
  9. ^ Kukec, Anna Marie. "Arlington opens season with new name". Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Arlington Park ditches the old dirt surface". Chicago Tribune. 2007-03-30. Retrieved 2021-02-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Channick, Robert (28 August 2019). "Arlington Racecourse owner passes on casino bid under new Illinois gambling law and may move racetrack". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  12. ^ Angst, Frank (24 February 2021). "Illinois Horsemen Call Arlington Sale Plans Absurd". The BloodHorse. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  13. ^ "Caton Metzler - Search results from HighBeam Research". Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2018.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 42°5′27.33″N 88°0′36.8″W / 42.0909250°N 88.010222°W / 42.0909250; -88.010222