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Arlington Park release (5/12/04)

Contact: David Zenner


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (May 11, 2004) -- Arlington Park kicks off its 77th season with a 3 p.m. post time this Friday, May 14 for the first of 96 days of racing that continues through Sunday, Sept. 19, 2004.

On the track, three-time defending riding champion Rene Douglas returns to attempt to make history by becoming the first jockey in history to win four consecutive titles. He is currently tied at three with two others, Steve Brooks (1947-49) and Bill Hartack (1955-57). Arlington Park will honor Douglas on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31 by having a special Rene Douglas bobblehead doll giveaway for fans in attendance.

The highlight of the 2004 meet will once again be the International Festival of Racing featuring the 22nd running of the Grade I Arlington Million that tops a schedule that includes 27 stakes races worth $5,625,000.

Arlington's International Festival of Racing features Illinois' only three Grade I stakes, all scheduled for turf: the $1,000,000 Arlington Million for 3-year-olds & up; the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for fillies & mares, 3-years-old & up; and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds. Last year's Festival featured a record 13 international horses, including Million victor Sulamani, competing in the three races.

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 purse of the Beverly D. was increased by $50,000 for its 2004 renewal. The Million is part of the World Racing Championships Ltd.

Five other stakes races received purse boosts for 2004 including three races that are now part of the Breeders' Cup Stakes program. The Grade II Arlington Classic, to be run July 3, and the Grade III Pucker Up Stakes, a turf race for 3-year-old fillies scheduled for Sept. 18, each was raised by $25,000 from 2003 to $200,000.

The Grade III Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks (formerly the Singapore Plate), for 3-year-old fillies on Aug. 21, and the Arlington Breeders' Cup Sprint, for older horses to be run one week later, each received a $50,000 enhancement from the Breeders' Cup Fund and are now worth $150,000 apiece to Breeders' Cup nominees. In addition, the Grade III Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Futurity will be worth $200,000, which includes $50,000 from the Breeders' Cup Fund.

Million Preview Day, scheduled for July 24 three weeks prior to the International Festival of Racing, has been adjusted to include major prep races for all three International Festival events. The Grade III $250,000 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. New to Million Preview Day for 2004 is the Grade II $250,000 American Derby, which leads into the Secretariat Stakes.

Also returning is the fifth annual Prairie State Festival, Arlington's annual showcase for Illinois-bred horses featuring six $75,000-added stakes races with total purses expected to be more than $500,000 on Saturday, June 26.

Other major stakes races in 2004 include the Grade III $200,000 Stars & Stripes Breeders' Cup Turf for older horses on Sunday, July 4; and the Grade II $350,000 Washington Park Handicap, the meet's richest main track race, on Saturday, July 31.

Off the track, fans will see some new and positive changes at Arlington. In 2004, Arlington Park and its employees are dedicated to making every guest's experience at the track an even more memorable and enjoyable one. During the off-season all Arlington employees participated in a new training program called "Sensational Customer Service" aimed at teaching them better ways to enhance the customer experience. Arlington's employees are dedicating themselves to making the guest experience even better through increased personal interaction, improved service and response to customer feedback.

In addition, there are a number of changes at Arlington for 2004 that were made with the customer in mind.

A significant change that all Arlington fans will see is the improved Daily Racing Guide that was redesigned after receiving feedback from both regular fans as well as occasional visitors to the track. With more pages of information including a new pace box called "See How They Run," comments on every horse and an expanded section on wagering, the new Daily Racing Guide is designed in an easy-to-read format that includes a section of program information without past performances as well as the standard past-performance information.

Arlington Park's interactive "Get in the Game," is a great way to find out more about the fascinating sport of Thoroughbred racing. The program kicks off Memorial Day on Monday, May 31 with Get in the Game & Get Winning! Then racing fans can participate every Saturday and Sunday from June 5 through September 6 for interactive programs hosted by Daily Herald writer/handicapper and host of Fox Sports Net's "Horsin' Around TV" Joe Kristufek. He and other racing experts will provide a hands-on introduction to Thoroughbred racing that will include everything from expert handicapping tips to some up-close, behind-the-scenes looks that will give fans a totally new appreciation for this exciting sport.

The weekend lineup gets even better at Arlington Park this summer with the addition of the new Bud Light Summer Bash and BBQ featuring live music, barbeque and beer specials in the Park area every Saturday at 1 p.m. from June 19 to August 7. The new Saturday feature joins the already-popular Miller Lite Party in the Park on Fridays at 3 p.m. (2:30 p.m. in September), Pepsi Family Days and Junior Jockey Club activities on Sundays to give fans a great reason to come to Arlington Park all weekend long. As a bonus, Suite Sundays returns in 2004, so that groups with as few as 12 people can reserve exclusive use of an Arlington Luxury Suite for a special discount rate on the following Sundays: May 23; June 13; July 11, 25; August 1, 8, 22; and September 5, 12.

There's no better place than Arlington Park, which offers the finest accommodations, elegant dining options and first-class service, to host a corporate or social event. This year, there are even greater options and additional amenities for groups of 20 or more who want to spend a day at the races.

The brand new John Henry Suite, ideally located right above the finish line, is close to mutuel tellers and features a spacious balcony overlooking the racetrack. With its elegant décor and beautiful furnishing, the John Henry Suite is an ideal atmosphere for corporate hospitality and networking for groups of 20 to 40.

Perfect for casual social events or corporate outings in a beautiful, outdoor setting for groups of 20 to 125, Arlington's new Park Pavilion is available Friday through Sunday plus selected holidays and offers the comfort of a semi-private tent. The Park Pavilion provides a casual, shaded area near both the racing action and all Park activities, including live bands on Fridays and Saturdays and Family Day events on Sundays. With a very relaxed dress code and box lunches available for an additional cost, the new Park Pavilion provides a great day out together.

To enhance the dining experience for Group Sales outings in the Box and Reserved Seats, the two new Bistros, with buffet-style service featuring a selection of freshly carved deli sandwiches, salads, soft drinks and dessert, will be available on Arlington Park's 3rd Level.

Additional amenities for groups at the track are a new Arlington Corporate Rewards Program that offers program points for every dollar spent on Group Sales events at Arlington Park and an Online Event Planning System that makes managing an upcoming event via the Internet seven days a week, 24 hours a day easy.

Post time at Arlington is 1 p.m. every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m. every Friday from May through August and 2:30 p.m. every Friday in September. Arlington Park is dark on Monday and Tuesday except Monday, May 31; Monday, July 5; and Monday, Sept. 6.

Arlington Park -- Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. -- will run a 96-day meet in 2004 from Friday, May 14 through Sunday, Sept. 19. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Longshots featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at

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