The International Festival of Racing, featuring the 27th running of the Grade I Arlington Million, tops a 2009 schedule that includes 27 stakes races worth $5,325,000 during 98 days of racing at Arlington Park from Friday, May 1 through Sunday, Sept. 27. The announcement was made Tuesday following the approval of the Illinois Racing Board at its monthly meeting.
Arlington's International Festival of Racing will be run on Saturday, Aug. 8, and features three Grade I stakes, all scheduled to be run over Arlington's internationally acclaimed turf course - the $1,000,000 Arlington Million for 3-year-olds & older; the $750,000 Beverly D. for fillies & mares, 3-years-old & older; and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds.
The Million and Secretariat are both run at North America's classic distance of a mile and a quarter while the Beverly D. is contested at a mile and three-sixteenths.
Other major event days include the American 1000 Guineas Festival on Saturday, May 23, when there will be four stakes races worth a total of $600,000 topped by the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas; the $600,000 Prairie State Festival for Illinois-bred horses on Saturday, June 20; an expanded Million Preview Day on Saturday, July 11; and stakes tripleheaders on Saturday, Sept. 5 and Labor Day Monday, Sept. 7 when the track presents its annual Turf Showcase card.
On July 11, Million Preview Day, scheduled four weeks before the International Festival of Racing, includes major prep races for all three International Festival events. The Grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap serves as the final local prep race for the Arlington Million while the Grade III $200,000 Modesty Handicap carries the same role for the Beverly D., and the Grade II $300,000 American Derby leads into the Secretariat Stakes. The Modesty and American Derby each had its purse increased by $50,000.
Three additional grass stakes races will be held that afternoon - the $200,000 Arlington Sprint at 5½ furlongs and two overnight stakes races, the $60,000 Diamond Ring Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles and the $60,000 Pink Ribbon for fillies and mares 3-years-old & older at five furlongs. Total purses available on Million Preview Day top $1 million, making it the second richest day on Arlington's 2009 calendar.
Also returning is the ninth annual Prairie State Festival, Arlington's showcase for Illinois-bred horses featuring six $100,000-added stakes races. Illinois-owned horses will be spotlighted in $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes scheduled for opening weekend (colts & geldings) and closing weekend (fillies).
Now in its second running, the American 1000 Guineas for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf headlines the stakes laden program on Saturday, May 23 that also includes the $150,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass, the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on the main track and the Grade III $100,000 Hanshin Cup for older horses at a mile over Polytrack.