ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Aug. 19, 2010) – The Arlington Million, the world’s first million-dollar horse race, celebrates its 28th running Saturday, Aug. 21 and it’s often been said that it one of the most difficult races to win. It is also said that the Stanley Cup which is awarded each year to the best team in the National Hockey League is the toughest trophy to win in all of sports.
This year, in honor of the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville has been invited to present the perpetual Arlington Million trophy to the race’s winning connections following the running of the mile and a quarter turf race again linking the two Chicago sports franchises that date back to the 1920s.
Quenneville just completed his second season with the Blackhawks after being named the 37th head coach in franchise history on October 16, 2008. He originally joined the organization as a pro scout in September 2008. Under Quenneville's watch, the Blackhawks earned their first league championship since 1961, winning the 2010 Stanley Cup. He is one of only three men in the history of the NHL to have played in and coached 800 or more games. Quenneville ranks 11th in National Hockey League history with 535 regular-season wins and has amassed a .666 winning percentage in his two seasons with the Blackhawks (97-44-19).
The Arlington Million was inaugurated in 1981 and was the first race to offer a seven-figure purse ideally placed in the summer so that European horses would be attracted to it before their year-end championship events in the fall. But money alone could not secure the success of the race that was known as the Arlington Million. John Henry took care of the rest.
The race received instant credibility when John Henry entered—and then won—the inaugural Million. The race has grown in stature from that day, still attracting the best grass runners in the world, still having a pivotal outcome on the Eclipse Awards. The Million has been graced by winners such as John Henry, Manila, Tight Spot, Estrapade, Perrault, Steinlen, Paradise Creek and Gio Ponti, all champions. It truly is one of America’s premier events.
The Arlington Million even has ties to the great sport of hockey when in 1990 “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky, following the victory of his Golden Pheasant, hoisted the Arlington Million trophy in the same fashion as he hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup so many times in his brilliant hockey career.
Arlington Park – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 91-day meet in 2010 from Thursday, April 29 through Sunday, Sept. 26. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates 11 off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities – Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Chicago, Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Waukegan, Shooters Bar & Grill at Don Carter Lanes featuring Trackside Rockford, Fat Sam’s Bar & Grill featuring Trackside OTB in Lockport, Lucky’s featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin, Nicolino’s featuring Trackside OTB in McHenry, Tad’s Sports Bar & Grill featuring Trackside OTB in South Beloit, Salerno-Pincente Ristorante featuring Trackside OTB in Hodgkins and Sundance Saloon featuring Trackside OTB in Waukegan. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.