Arlington Park was founded by California businessman Harry D. "Curly" Brown who would later serve as president of Oriental Park Racetrack in Havana, Cuba. The track officially opened October 13, 1927 to 20,000 spectators at its current location at Euclid Avenue (2200 West Euclid Ave) and Wilke Road. It has always been considered a technology leader. Arlington was the first track to install a public-address system and employed the pioneering race caller Clem McCarthy to describe the action. It added the first electric totalisator which allowed a credible tote board and decreased time between races, in 1933. In 1936 it added a photo finish camera. Arlington Park introduced the first electric starting gate in 1940, the largest closed circuit TV system in all of sports in 1967 and the introduction of trifecta wagering in 1971.
The Arlington Park grandstand at the 2004 Arlington Million.
In 1981 Arlington was the home of the world's first million dollar race: The Arlington Million. The result of that race is immortalized in bronze at the top of the paddock at Arlington, where a statue of jockey Bill Shoemaker riding John Henry to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over 40-1 long shot. The nationally televised Arlington Million is a big annual event with a Million Dollar Block Party in downtown Arlington Heights on Friday Night before the race in August.
Arlington Park entered a new era when Richard L. Duchossois led an Illinois investment group to purchase the track from its former owners and made a pledge to continue presenting championship racing. That was tested on July 31, 1985, when a small fire spread quickly out of control and completely destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse. Unsure of the future of Arlington, the meet was moved to Hawthorne Race Course. Yet it was announced that the Arlington Million would still be held at Arlington Park. On August 25, 1985 they did just that by using temporary bleachers. In a massive undertaking of human strength and will, crews worked around the clock to prepare the track in time for the fifth Million, appropriately known as the "Miracle Million."
In 1986 Arlington conducted a 13-day International Festival of Racing in late August and early September. Under the same basic theme of pageantry that characterized the 1985 Million, the Festival offered the most complete package of events, festivity and world class racing ever presented in a two-week time span. More than $5 million in purses were awarded the country's finest jockeys, horses and owners gathered for this 13-day meet. Later that year Duchossois bought out partners Joseph F. Joyce, Sheldon Robbins and Ralph Ross to assume full control of Arlington.
Arlington Park Racetrack fully reopened with a new grandstand stadium on June 28, 1989 with a new name (Arlington International Racecourse).
In 2000, Arlington Park reopened after a two-year shutdown, reverting to it original name of 'Arlington Park.' In September of that year, Churchill Downs Incorporated completed its purchase of the Arlington Park Racetrack.
High Chaparral wins the 2002 Breeders' Cup Turf
World Thoroughbred Championship at Arlington.
Arlington hosted the 2002 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at their track.
Arlington Park Racetrack has a one-and-one-eighth mile Polytrack synthetic oval and a one-mile turf oval. 'Do the Wave' ridden by Eusebio Razo Jr. was the first horse to win the one-mile race on the state-of-the-art Polytrack surface which opened at the beginning of the 80th season of Arlington Park Racetrack.
Arlington Park Racetrack is capable of seating at least 50,000 with extension. The backstretch has stables with over 2,000 horses.
The following graded stakes are run at Arlington Park:
Grade 1 Arlington Million
Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes
Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes
Grade 2 American Derby
Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap
Grade 3 Arlington Classic Stakes
Grade 3 Arlington Handicap
Grade 3 Arlington Matron Handicap
Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Futurity
Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Lassie Stakes
Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap
Grade 3 Hanshin Cup Handicap
Grade 3 Modesty Handicap
Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes
Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap