The Arlington Million is a Grade 1 race, awarded with the status in 1983 after its second running, for thoroughbreds aged three and up. It is held every August over a distance of 1 ¼ miles on the turf at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
First run in 1981, the Arlington Million is the first thoroughbred race to have a $1 million purse and is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, with the winner automatically qualifying for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The winner receives 60% of the million dollar purse and the Arlington Million trophy.
On August 30, 1981, Willie Shoemaker became the first jockey to win when John Henry took the inaugural Arlington Million by a nose over The Bart. Shoemaker would go on to win with John Henry a second time as well in 1984.
Arlington Park also famously ran the Million in 1985 under the shadow of a burnt-out grandstand after a fire had occurred just 25 days earlier.
The Arlington Million - a Race By Any Other Name
The race has been run under several different names in the past – the Arlington Million Invitational Stakes in 1981, the Budweiser Million Stakes from 1982 to 1984 and the Budweiser-Arlington Million from 1985 to 1987. In 1988, the race was even held at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario to accommodate the completion of repairs from that 1985 fire, and there was no race held in 1998 or 1999 during a two-year shutdown of Arlington Park.
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