1986 was a year of firsts in Chicago. The Chicago Bears devastated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX with a final score of 46-10, stamping their “46” defense on National Football League history. The Bears Super Bowl win came as the first major championship for a Chicago team since the 1963 NFL title.
That same year, the Arlington Million unveiled a first of its own.
In 1986, Estrapade became the first and only female racehorse to have won the Arlington Million.
Allen Paulson, who is most notably known for owning champion and two time horse of the year Cigar, purchased Estrapade for $4.5-million at the November 1985 Keeneland breeding stock sale.
The purchase showed promise right away as Estrapade responded with a track-record performance in taking the 1 1/4-mile Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood on June 29.
After a six-week layoff and a sixth place finish at Del Mar in her first race back, trainer Charlie Whittingham shipped her to Arlington where she spent almost two weeks preparing for her Million run.
Whittingham, who had won the Kentucky Derby almost four months prior with Ferdinand, was looking to continue his dominant 1986 season.
Known as the ‘Queen of the Turf”, Estrapade’s regular jockey Bill Shoemaker was replaced by turf riding specialist Fernando Toro, a decision Charlie Whittingham made to shake things up after her sixth place finish at Del Mar. The rest is history.
Estrapade collared the pace-setting Divulge while leaving the backstretch and left the rest of the field behind as she drew off to gain a 5 1/2-length victory. Her time of 2:00 4/5 for the 10 furlongs was the second fastest Million.
The Arlington Million would be the race that pushed Estrapade over the million-dollar career earnings mark, and she would go on to win the 1986 Eclipse Award for Champion Female Turf Horse.
She was retired to broodmare duty, where she produced two winners from six starters, including stakes winner, Rice.
Estrapade developed Cushing’s syndrome and left Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms breeding operation in Lexington, Kentucky in 2005. She was scheduled to be sent to Old Friends Equine in Georgetown, Kentucky but on February 25, 2005 died of a heart attack.
She is buried at the Old Friends Cemetery on Alfred Nuckols, Jr.’s Hurstland Farm with a plaque that outlines her accomplishments.
In 2006, Estrapade was nominated for induction in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.