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Arlington Million for racing pros, amatuer fans
Sheila Ahern | Daily Herald Staff

Jambalaya, number one with jockey Robby Albarado in white silks, won the Arlington Million last year.

 

Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

Bonny Brown played the bugle for the post parade of the Arlington Million in 2007.

 

John Starks | Staff Photographer

The track is ready for the Million races, although the Million race is on the turf.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Workers hose down the track area in the paddock before the start of the races.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Arlington Million chicken dinner plate.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Arlington Million dessert is served up after the chicken dinner.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Arlington Million Chef Mario Filippelli shows off his chicken dinner plate.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

The Arlington Million drink is served up minus the jockey' goggles.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/7/2008 11:30 AM | Updated: 8/7/2008 12:15 PM

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Track regulars are easy to spot.

They're the ones with "Daily Racing Form" rolled up under one arm. From behind sunglasses, they watch horses warm up and know how many years of experience each jockey has and what country each horse is from.

People who know nothing about horse racing are equally easy to spot.

They sip shrimp cocktail martinis with their back to the track. They pick winners because the name "Snoose Goose" sounds funny or because the jockey is wearing their favorite color.

Who cares if the odds of winning are 30 to 1? You just never know.

About 30,000 people from both groups will flood Arlington Park for the 26th running Saturday of the Arlington Million, the track's premier event.

Here's what's new or important to know before you go. Roll up this article and put it under your arm on Saturday. You'll look like a pro.

Feel like a Million: For $10, buy the Millon's signature cocktail, "The Millionaire," which is made with vodka, cranberry juice and lemonade. The drink comes in an Arlington Million souvenir glass that lists the track's past Million winners. For each drink, $2 of the total cost goes to the American Cancer Society. So really, it's all about giving to charity.

You can leave your hat on: New York hat designer Christine A. Moore is brining about 80 of her famous hats to the track. Moore's customers include Linda Rondstadt, Alicia Keys, Halle Berry, Julie Christie, Diane Keaton, Susan Lucci, Kelly McGillis, Cynthia Nixon and Debra Winger.

"Women wear them, get their first compliment and then they're hooked," Moore said of her hats. "Women love to dress up and fashion at the track is very important."

Moore is a regular at the Kentucky Derby but Saturday will be her first appearance at Arlington Park. Moore will be selling her hats outside the Turf Club at prices ranging from $95 to more than $600.

Fries or fondue: Downstairs you can enjoy french fries served in red-and-white checkered paper baskets while upstairs Turf Club members can chow down on an upscale buffet, loaded with fancy food like lobster, caviar, a prime rib carving station and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Mario Filippelli, the track's executive chef, said he expects to go through 5,000 pounds of prime rib and 1,000 pounds of shrimp on Saturday.

New this year in the Cobey Food Court is a seafood stand that will feature a shrimp shooter cocktail with horseradish and lemon and a crab cake sandwich on a brioche bun with lemon aioli and coleslaw, Filippelli said.

Chefs and cooks flew to the track this week from all over the country to help out, he said.

"But I'm the crazy guy with the baton in the middle of it all," he said.

Filippelli and the other cooks will work until 2 a.m. on Friday and return a few hours later to make sure everything is ready for the Million.

Become a pro - in an hour: Joe Kristufek will give a racing handicapping seminar from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. He'll give a breakdown of the day's races and some basic handicapping tips.

A breather from the racing: The Miller Lite BBQ will start at 11:15 a.m., last all day, and feature barbecue specials and live music.

Special guest: Kerli - an up and coming Estonian indie pop singer - will play after the seventh and eighth races. In 2002, Kerli, now 21, won the Baltic equivalent of "American Idol" after lying about her age. Four years later, she signed a contract with Island Def Jam records and her debut album, "Love Is Dead," was released on July 8.

Tickets cheaper online: Advance tickets are available at www.arlingtonpark.com for $12. Day of tickets are $15 each. The first 5,000 paid admissions will receive a Million T-shirt. Gates open 10 a.m., with races running from 11:45 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. The Arlington Million race is slated for 4:45 p.m.

Avoiding after traffic: Let everybody else file out while you grab a final drink or bite to eat at the Players Lounge on the second floor, which is open for about 45 minutes after the final race. Racing fans who just can't get enough can head over to the Trackside Restaurant and OTB parlor.