Churchill Downs Inc. has announced it will rename the Arlington Million to the Mister D Stakes and lower the purse to $600,000 in 2021.
The Arlington Million last ran in 2019 and was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. The Mister D Stakes will run on August 14th at Arlington Park as a part of an 8-race card. Other races of note on the August 14th card include the Beverly D Stakes and the Bruce D Stakes, formerly the Secretariat Stakes.
2021 Likely the Last Season for Arlington Park
Barring a very unlikely surprise, longtime horseplayers and fans are likely looking at the final horse racing season at Arlington International Racecourse. Churchill Downs officially listed the nearly 100-year-old track for sale in February.
In a press release announcing its intention to sell Arlington Park, Churchill Downs committed to running the 2021 racing season. In the February press release, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen also said his company will be looking at alternative locations to build a new racetrack-casino.
In the meantime, we are very committed to pursuing the relocation of Arlington’s racing license to another community in the Chicagoland area or elsewhere in the state. We are exploring potential options with the State and other constituents and remain optimistic that we can find solutions that work for the State, local communities and the thousands of Illinoisans who make their living directly or indirectly from thoroughbred horse racing. We are committed to the Illinois thoroughbred racing industry and will consider all options in working toward opportunities for it to continue into the future.
First Hints Came in 2019
The first clues that Arlington Park’s time was running short came in 2019, when Churchill Downs Inc. surprised and angered many in the horse racing community by declining to apply for a casino license after Illinois passed a major gaming expansion bill.
The decision caught many off guard because Churchill Downs had lobbied for the right to offer table games and slots to remain viable as a business. When lawmakers approved legislation that would have given Arlington Park its long-awaited chance to install slots and table games, Churchill Downs announced it would scrap its plans “with a heavy heart,” citing tax rates and increased competition in the area.
Churchill Downs committed to holding race meets in 2020 and 2021, but stated it would be looking at all options, including moving its racing license elsewhere in Illinois:
Arlington will conduct horse racing in 2020 and 2021 and also will apply for a sports betting license while longer-term alternatives are explored. CDI and the team at Arlington will continue to work with legislative and community stakeholders, as well as Arlington’s customers, employees and horsemen to find a solution that takes into account the many constituents across the State of Illinois who depend on horse racing for their livelihoods. All options will be considered, including moving the racing license to another community in the Chicagoland area or elsewhere in the state.