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‘Festival Free Pass' Offered to Winners of Selected Races

| Churchill Downs Communications | 07/18/2012 #

Arlington Park officials announced an expanded “Festival Free Pass” program for the 2011 Arlington Million and other International Festival of Racing events that will waive entry and starting fees for the winners of selected Group races overseas and one North American Graded stakes race as well as the top finishers in the track’s local Festival prep races.

In addition to the Grade I Arlington Million, the Aug. 13 International Festival of Racing, the track’s All Star Day, includes the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. for fillies and mares and the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds.  All three races will be run over Arlington’s internationally acclaimed turf course.

Last year, a total of three European races – two for the Arlington Million and one for the Beverly D. – were selected for the “Festival Free Pass.”  For 2011, that number has increased more than three-fold to 10 overseas races – five for the Arlington Million, one for the Beverly D. and four for the Secretariat.

Winners of the Group I Premio Presidente della Repubblica on Saturday, May 15 at Capannelle in Rome; the Group I Prix d’Ispahan on May 22 at Longchamp in France; the Group I Tattersalls Gold Cup on May 22 at The Curragh in Ireland; the Group I Coral-Eclipse at England’s Sandown Park on July 2; and the Group I Grosser Dallmayr-Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen at Munich in Germany on July 31 will have their entry and starting fees waived for the mile and a quarter Arlington Million.

The Group race whose winner will get a “Festival Free Pass” for the mile and three-sixteenths Beverly D. is the Group II Totesport.com Middleton Stakes at York in England on May 12 and a second race to be named later.  Since fillies and mares in Europe often race against their male peers, the winners of these races may also use the “Festival Free Pass” to enter the Arlington Million.

“Festival Free Passes” for the 10-furlong Secretariat will be awarded to the winners of the following races: the Group III Dee Stakes at the Chester Spring Festival in England on May 6; the Group III Gallinule Stakes at The Curragh on May 22; the Group III Bavarian Classic at Munich on May 22; and the Group II Prix Eugene Adam at France’s Maisons-Laffitte on July 24.  The winners of these races also may use their “Festival Free Pass” for other Festival races should they be eligible under the conditions of those races.

“By targeting the winners of these prestigious races overseas and offering their connections free entry to our premier races, we hope to assemble a truly world class International Festival of Racing this August,” said Chris Polzin, Arlington Park’s director of racing and racing secretary.

“This is a great Arlington initiative,” added International Racing Bureau Managing Director Alastair Donald. “Hopefully this will persuade European owners and trainers to give serious thought to running their horses at the Festival on what is generally acknowledged to be the best turf track in North America.”

As an added bonus for horses that race at Arlington Park prior to the International Festival of Racing, the racecourse will again waive entry and starting fees for the Festival to the top three finishers in corresponding races on Million Preview Day July 9.

The graded stakes races that make up the Million Preview Day program - a staple at Arlington since 2001 - are the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Handicap, which serves as the final local prep for the Arlington Million; the Grade III $150,000 Modesty Handicap, which is the last local prep for the Beverly D.; and the Grade II $200,000 American Derby, the second leg of the Mid-America Triple and a prep for the series' final leg, the Secretariat Stakes.

“In 2010, seven of the nine horses to finish 1-2-3 on Million Preview Day took advantage of the ‘Festival Free Pass’ to start in the International Festival of Racing including Éclair de Lune and Hot Cha Cha, who made up the winning exacta in the Beverly D. after running second and third in the Modesty five weeks earlier,” Polzin noted.

In addition, for the first time in 2011 a “Festival Free Pass” will be offered to the winner of the Grade II Virginia Derby, which will be run in July at Colonial Downs.  Last year’s Virginia Derby hero Paddy O’Prado won the Secretariat Stakes, snapping the bid for a Mid-America Triple sweep by Workin for Hops.