Champions of The Arlington Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat

August 08, 2011 12:03pm
Arlington Park's International Festival of Racing has long been considered one of the most important days of turf held in America. Taking a quick scan of the Eclipse Award winners that have come out victorious on the Suburban Chicago turf course over the past 30 years, demonstrates the magnitude of the day. Only the grass races of the Breeders' Cup can equal or surpass Arlington's grade one trio of the Arlingtion Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat Stakes, for producing champions.

Ladies first, as the Beverly D. certainly takes a backseat to no race. In only 21 previous editions, the winner of the female counterpart to the Arlington Million has gone on to win the Eclipse Award 4 times. In fact, in the mid-nineties, the Beverly D. had a three year streak going as Flawlessy, Hatoof, and Possibly Perfect all used the Beverly D. as a cornerstone to their excellent Eclipse Award seasons. Despite the excellent roll call of winners, there has only been one filly to turn the trick since, when Golden Apples completed the double in 2002.

As for the main event, the Arlington Million has been run a total of 28 times, with exactly one quarter of the winners being rewarded with an Eclipse Award the same year. Chief among those victors, of course was the legendary Hall of Famer, John Henry. The steel driving racehorse ran in the Million three times, with two wins, and a 2nd place finish to his credit. In each of those years, John Henry won the Eclipse Award as the best turf horse in the land, as well as a 4th title in 1980, which was the year before the inaugural running of 1981. John Henry won that first ever Million in a thrilling finish over The Bart, in what would prove to be a great beginning for thoroughbred racing's first ever million dollar race.
After John Henry, five other horses won the Arlington Million on their way to being rewarded with a championship the same year. Estrapade became the only mare to win the Million, an integral ingredient in her being named the best Female Turf Horse of 1986. Other turf stars to use the Million as a springboard to a championship included such tigers as Steinlen, Tight Spot, and Paradise Creek. In recent years it has been Gio Ponti who has been the star of the Million show. An Eclipse Award winner the past two years, the son of Tale of the Cat will run in his third consective Arlington Million after winning in 2009 and finishing 2nd in 2010.
Year Million Winner Beverly D. Winner Secretariat Winner Eclipse Award

Mac Diarmida Turf Horse
1981 John Henry

Turf Horse
1984 John Henry

Turf Horse
1986 Estrapade

Female Turf Horse
1989 Steinlen

Turf Horse
1991 Tight Spot

Turf Horse
Female Turf Horse
1994 Paradise Creek

Turf Horse
Female Turf Horse
Possibly Perfect
Female Turf Horse
Golden Apples
Female Turf Horse

Kitten's Joy Turf Horse
2009 Gio Ponti

Turf Horse

Meanwhile the Secretariat Stakes has a more difficult task in producing a year-end champion, considering there is no Eclipse Award for sophomore turf horses. Despite that fact, there have been two horses outstanding enough to be named Turf Champion the same year they won at Arlington. In 1978, Mac Diarmida won ten consecutive races, with the Secretariat being the ninth of that great run. Then in 2004, it was Kitten's Joy who capitalized on an overpowering score in the Secretariat, and a victory in Belmont's Turf Classic, to nail down a championship. Just last year, the Secretariat Stakes could have seen it's third Eclipse Award winner, as many believed the 2010 winner, Paddy O'Prado, was deserving of the year-end award, including yours truly.

If you are a fan of turf racing like me, there isn't much better than Arlington's International Festival of Racing. Keep in mind, that the 12 horses, in 13 years, I mentioned here are only the ones who won on Million Day, and took home an Eclipse that same year. There have been several more champions who lost at the Festival, or won a championship in another year. It's a given that we will see great turf racing, the question is whether a win on Saturday will propel a horse to a year-end championship. As you can tell, the chances are not bad at all.


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Older Comments about Champions of The Arlington Million, Beverly D. and Secretariat...

Great history lesson, a big impact race on year end honors.
I'm rooting for Gio Ponti to win the Million again and Banned to capture the Secretariat.
I am hoping for a Gio comeback..can't just give up on is going to be a tough race.
Million Day is always a great day, and all 3 races look strong ... actually the Secretariat field might be the best of the bunch!
I'm counting down the seconds til Saturday!!!
Love it Brian!! I can't wait for this year's edition of the three greatest midwest races!
It's a wonderful card with tremendous heritage. Three great races. Wish a few of the horses from the Diana were headed out there for the Beverly D, but other than that, it looks like the festival will come up very salty once again this year. Fingers crossed for the weather.

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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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