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Arlington Million still the pinnacle of racing
By Deborah Donovan | Daily Herald Staff

Racing fans line the rail before the start of the Arlington Million.



Horses and their jockeys race to the finish line.



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Published: 6/24/2009 12:02 AM

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The Arlington Million is about the horses.

Yes, you'll see ladies in hats. There will be musical entertainment. And finally there is a special drink, the Million Mary.

But it's the racing and the horses that attract people from around the world to Arlington Park on Aug. 8 for the culmination of the International Festival of Racing.

The winning horse at the 27th running of the Million in Arlington Heights will not only grab $600,000, but he will get an invitation to the Japan Cup. That's Japan's premiere race with a purse of $5 million, and this is the only North American race that offers an automatic berth to the winner.

"It's our biggest racing day of the year," said David Zenner, senior manager of communications for Arlington Park. "Some of the best turf horses from around the world will race."

The horses run on the grass track at Arlington Park for the purse totaling $1 million.

Two other special races are also run that day. The Beverly D offers a purse of $750,000 for mares and fillies and the Secretariat Stakes totals $400,000 for 3-year-olds.

The three special races on Million Day are the only ones in Illinois that rank on an annual basis as Grade I, the top level of racing.

Around 30,000 people are expected to pass through the gate. The company urges race fans to buy tickets in advance online. While the race itself will not sell out, many extras such as the sit-down restaurants and reserved seats will.

The race will be televised by ESPN, and reporters are expected from around the world: Europe; Japan and Australia.