Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your hibernation from Chicago racing! This unusually warm Chicago weather has not required a thaw from the normal deep-freeze we’re accustomed to seeing here. Rather, this warmer weather has already sprouted the 2012 spring and summer stakes schedule for Illinois racing! Let’s take a closer look at what the Chicago stakes schedule has to offer this summer.
May - Arlington starts off their meet right with three stakes races!
(The Hanshin Cup by Marcy Leonard)
- The Hanshin Cup is run on May 19 and then a week later, on Memorial Day weekend, are the first leg of the Mid America Triple (Arlington Classic) and the Grade 3 Arlington Matron!
- Here are some interesting facts:
- The Arlington Classic is the race that put Willcox Inn on the map last season.
- Both the Hanshin Cup and the Arlington Matron are graded stakes (Grade 3).
- The Hanshin Cup actually started as the Equipoise Mile and was run for many years under that name until the year 2000 when it was switched to its current name.
- There is also a Hanshin Cup race in Japan!
- There is also an Arlington Cup race in Japan!
- In 1932, the Arlington Classic was the richest race run in America for three-year-olds!
- The most dominant victory in the Arlington Classic was by Alydar in 1978 with a 13 length victory.
- Giant Oak also won the Arlington Classic (in 2009).
- In the 2010 version of the Arlington Matron (for which I was in attendance), won by Tizaqueena, a fan from the top of the stands yelled “1:16.3, @#$% me…” I guess he didn’t care for the slow pace? Whoa.
- I’m going to end this sentence with an exclamation point!
June - Hail Illinois!
(The Prairie State Festival by Marcy Leonard)
- The annual Prairie State Festival kicks off on June 16 with six stakes races featuring the best Illinois has to offer.
- Contested at one mile on the all-weather (rain or shine) Polytrack for three-year-olds is the Springfield Stakes (for the boys) and the Purple Violet Stakes (for the girls).
- Contested at six furlongs on the Polytrack for three-year-olds and up are the White Oak Handicap (for the boys) and the Isaac Murphy Handicap (for the girls).
- Contested at 8 ½ furlongs on the beautiful Arlington turf course are the Black Tie Affair Handicap (for the boys) and the Lincoln Heritage Handicap (for the girls).
- On June 30, the Chicago Handicap is run for the ladies at the specialized seven furlong distance. Informed Decision was a two-time winner of the Chicago Handicap in both 2009 and 2010.
July - In Honor of My Birthday.
July 14th, my birthday, features Arlington Million preview day (on my birthday) with four graded stakes races on the turf course (for my birthday), as we get to see who will make appearances on Arlington Million Day (not on my birthday). The races include:
- The Grade 3 American Derby (Secretariat Stakes preview)
- The Grade 3 Arlington Handicap (Arlington Million preview)
- The Grade 3 Modesty Handicap (Beverly D. preview)
- The Grade 3 Stars and Stripes (American St. Leger preview) (wait, the WHAT preview????)
- Here are some interesting facts:
- Willcox Inn also won the American Derby as well as the previous Arlington Classic last year to take the first two legs of the Mid America Triple.
- Triple Crown winner Whirlaway won the American Derby back in 1941.
- The great Eddie Arcaro holds the record with five wins in the American Derby.
- My birthday is also a holiday in France (Bastille Day).
- Sky Classic set the stakes record in the Arlington Handicap in 1992 with a time of 2:00.3.
- Both Round Table and Cosmonaut won the Arlington Handicap twice.
- I share my birthday with my cat Stormy.
- The Modesty Handicap has been run since 1942 (and then it was called the Modesty Stakes).
- Fantasta (GB) set the Modesty stakes record just last season with a winning time of 1:53.4.
- I also share my birthday with one of the dudes from the Dukes of Hazzard.
August - In Honor of my Wedding Anniversary.
This August 11th, Ramey and I will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary. Chances are almost 100% that I will not be in attendance for the Illinois Owners Stakes (contested for both boys and girls on the turf course at 8 ½ furlongs).
- First, there is a BRAND NEW stakes race to mention. The American St. Leger will make its debut this year running at the very standard (not) distance of 1 11/16 miles on the turf. Whoa.
- Then the best three-year-old turf horses square off in the Secretariat Stakes.
- Following that the ladies take the stage in the Beverly D.
- Finally, there is this race called the Arlington Million. Ever heard of it?
September - Closing the doors on the Arlington meet.
A quartet of Grade 3 stakes races close out the season at Arlington. These races feature:
- The Washington Park Handicap
- The Arlington-Washington races featuring two-year-olds
- The Pucker Up
All I can say is WOW! Look at the great racing being brought to you by the Chicago area! Sure I’m a bit biased, but I truly believe that both Hawthorne and Arlington are providing racing fans with a top-notch racing experience.
Which Chicago races are you looking forward to most in 2012?
Leave a comment below!!