A stakes schedule worth a total of $3,700,000 will be offered throughout the 2018 meet at Arlington International Racecourse, which kicks off on Friday, May 4.
Headlining the 71-day season is the International Festival of Racing on Saturday, August 11. Three Grade I events over Arlington's internationally acclaimed turf course are scheduled for the program, including the 36th edition of the Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million for 3-year-olds and up, the Grade I $600,000 Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up and the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds. The Arlington Million and the Beverly D. Stakes will again be featured as part of the Breeders' Cup World Championships' “Win and You're In” Challenge Series. Last year, trainer Chad Brown swept both events with Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds' Chilean-bred Dacita in the Beverly D. and James Covello, Sheep Pond Partners and Head of Plains Partners LLC's Beach Patrol (winner of the 2016 Secretariat Stakes) in the Million. Two other stakes will be contested on this day – the Grade III $100,000 Pucker Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf and the $100,000 Bruce D. Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds over the Polytrack.
Both the Million and Secretariat Stakes are contested over the classic distance of a mile-and-a-quarter while the Beverly D. is run at a mile-and-three-sixteenths.
The Ride to the Million, presented by Miller Lite on Saturday, July 12 will feature three Grade III turf events each worth $100,000 to serve as major prep races for the International Festival. The Arlington Handicap will continue as a springboard for the Million while the Modesty Handicap and American Derby are respective preps for the Beverly D. and Secretariat. In addition, the first, second and third place finishers from each prep race will have their entry fees waived for their counterpart race. Only two horses in Arlington's history – Vaudeville (1994) and Gun Salute (2005) – have swept the American Derby and Secretariat Stakes. No horse has yet to win both the Modesty and Beverly D. or the Arlington Handicap and Arlington Million. Also carded on the Ride to the Million are the Grade III Stars and Stripes Stakes run at a distance of a mile-and-a-half and the mile-and-a-sixteenth Hatoof Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, both races are run over the turf course and carry a $100,000 purse.
Other graded stakes events on the calendar include the Grade III $100,000 Hanshin Cup. Run at one mile over the Polytrack for the 3-year-olds and up, the Hanshin is carded for Saturday, May 12 as the first stakes of the meet. Two weeks later, the Grade III $100,000 Arlington Classic will be contested on Saturday, May 26 by 3-year-olds on the turf at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth.
Illinois-registered Thoroughbreds will have their chance at stakes-level prosperity throughout the month of June with six events, all of which carry a purse of $75,000. On Saturday June 2, the Addison Cammack Memorial Handicap and Isaac Murphy Stakes will be contested over the Polytrack, with both races run at six furlongs. The following Saturday, June 9 will feature the Black Tie Affair Handicap for 3-year-olds and up and the Mike Spellman Memorial Handicap for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up, both of which are turf events run at a mile-and-a-sixteenth. Two 3-year-old stakes on June 16 will be the final stakes events for Illinois-breds this meet with the Springfield Stakes and the Purple Violet Stakes, the latter of which is for fillies. Both races are run at one mile on the Polytrack.
The final stakes events of the meet are the Arlington-Washington Futurity for 2-year-olds and its sister race, the Arlington-Washington Lassie, which are carded for Saturday, September 8. Both races carry a $75,000 purse and are contested at seven furlongs.
Arlington's stakes program will see the reintroduction of two graded stakes over the Polytrack for fillies and mares – the Grade III $100,000 Arlington Matron on May 19 going a mile-and-one-eighth and the Grade III $100,000 Chicago Handicap on June 23 over a distance of seven furlongs, both of which were run at Churchill Downs last season.
“We are very excited for the upcoming meet,” said Arlington racing secretary Chris Polzin. “The Arlington International Festival of Racing has always been a highly regarded international event and a major springboard to the Breeders' Cup World Championships for some of the best turf horses in the world. We hope to attract such horses this year the way that we have in years past. We are equally as excited to bring back the Chicago Handicap and Arlington Matron. Both races have proven to be competitive events when hosted here and have attracted quality horses from other circuits, so we are confident that we will continue to receive that support this year.”
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