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Arlington to Run 27 Stakes in 2008 Worth More Than $5.5 Million
The International Festival of Racing, featuring the 26th running of the Grade I Arlington Million tops a 2008 schedule that includes 27 stakes races worth $5,575,000 during 96 days of racing at Arlington Park from Friday, May 2 through Sunday, September 21.
Arlington's International Festival of Racing will be run on Saturday, Aug. 9 and features three Grade I stakes, all scheduled for turf - the $1,000,000 Arlington Million for 3-year-olds & up; the $750,000 Beverly D. for fillies & mares, 3-years-old & up; and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds.
The Million and Secretariat are both run at North America's classic distance of a mile and a quarter while the Beverly D. is contested at a mile and three-sixteenths. The Million and Beverly D. will be televised live as part of a one-hour telecast on ESPN.
Other major event days include Saturday, May 24, when there will be three stakes races worth a total of $450,000; the Prairie State Festival for Illinois-bred horses on Saturday, June 21 featuring six stakes races for Illinois-registered horses with increased purses totaling more than $600,000; and Million Preview Day on Saturday, July 12.
Scheduled four weeks prior to the International Festival of Racing on July 12, Million Preview Day includes major prep races for all three International Festival events. The Grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap serves as the final local prep race for the Arlington Million while the Grade III $150,000 Modesty Handicap carries the same role for the Beverly D., and the Grade II $250,000 American Derby leads into the Secretariat Stakes.
Two new stakes races have been added for the 2008 season including the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf which is part of a stakes tripleheader on Saturday, May 24, sharing top billing on the Memorial Day holiday weekend card with the Grade III $100,000 Hanshin Cup and the $150,000 Arlington Classic, the first leg of Arlington's Mid-America Triple.
"In every major racing jurisdiction around the world, the 1000 Guineas is the first classic race of the year for 3-year-old fillies," explained Arlington Park Vice President of Racing and Racing Secretary Kevin Greely. "America has its derbies and oaks, but this will mark the first time a 1000 Guineas race will be run in North America."
As an added bonus, the winner of the American 1000 Guineas will receive an automatic starting berth in the Grade I American Oaks at Hollywood Park.
The Arlington Sprint has had its purse increased to $200,000 and has been moved to the turf course for its 2008 renewal. The Sprint is being moved to the grass to position the race to serve as a significant prep to the newly created $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, which will be run as part of the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on October 24.
Another race which may serve as a potential prep for the Turf Sprint is the inaugural edition of the $100,000 Lake Michigan Stakes for 3-year-olds which, like the Arlington Sprint, will be run at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf.
One additional multi-stakes day appears on the 2008 stakes slate on Saturday, Sept. 6 when the Grade III $200,000 Pucker Up Stakes and the Grade III $150,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie will be run.
Other major stakes races in 2008 include the Grade III $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap for fillies & mares, 3-years-old & up on Monday, May 26; the Grade III $200,000 Stars & Stripes Handicap for older horses on Friday, July 4; and the Grade III $200,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity for 2-year-olds on Saturday, Sept. 13.
Illinois-owned horses will be spotlighted in a pair of events - the $100,000 James B. Tafel Illinois Owners Stakes for 3-year-olds & up which will kick off the stakes schedule on Saturday, May 3, and the $100,000 Nancy A. Vanier Illinois Owners Stakes for fillies and mares, which will be run on closing day, Sunday, Sept. 21. Each race will be run at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf.
Missing from the 2008 stakes schedule are the Round Table Stakes for 3-year-olds and the Grade III Washington Park Handicap for older runners.
"We've decided to place the Round Table Stakes and the Washington Park Handicap on hiatus for 2008 and reallocate the purse money to enhance other stakes races," explained Greely. "We will assess the strength of these longtime Arlington fixtures to determine when they need to be run to maximize both the local and national stakes programs."