• R.F. Wittmeyer
  • August 9, 2016

The inaugural running of the Arlington Million held in 1981 put Chicago back on the world racing map. The Arlington Million was the first thoroughbred race to offer a purse of $1,000,000. It is part of the Breeder’s Cup Challenge series. The winner automatically qualifies for the Breeder’s Cup Turf. A crowd of 30,000 fans attended the first Arlington Million, which was won by the horse, John Henry. John Henry was the son of the modest sire Old Bob Bowers and Once Double. Racing fans loved John Henry because he was a true rags to riches story. He initially sold for only $1,100. Over time it was discovered that he excelled in turf racing so fans were delighted he would be running in the first Arlington Million.

At the first Arlington Million, John Henry was ridden by the legendary Willie Shoemaker, who led his horse to victory by a hair, literally. The race was so close the photo finish had to be very carefully analyzed. No one knew the results of the race until the photo had been reviewed so the fans went wild when John Henry was proclaimed to be the winner. The first Arlington Million race when John Henry barely beat The Bart is considered to be one of the greatest races in history. John Henry won the race a second time in 1984 and is the only horse to win the Arlington Million twice.

Here are some other interesting facts about the Arlington Million. The fastest race time of 1.58.69 has been held by the horse, Awad, since 1995. Five jockeys have each won the race twice. In 1986, Estrapade won the race by the biggest margin of five lengths. In 1985, a fire burnt the Arlington race track buildings to the ground, but the race was still held with people pitching tents along with some temporary facilities—so this race is known as the “Miracle Milli on.” There was no race held in 1998 or 1999 due to the rebuilding of the park from the fire. The excitement of the Arlington Million continues this year for local fans and fans watching all around the world. The Arlington Million attracts the best grass runners in the world each year so you don’t want to miss it! The 34 th running of the Arlington Million will be held on August 13th . For more information about this year’s race, go to: www.arlingtonpark.com.

The Law Offices of RF Wittmeyer, Ltd. is proud to be a part of the Arlington Heights business community for over 30 years.

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