Arlington Park, which recently received approximately $140 million in casino impact fees, will add a new $400k stakes race on the grass to its stakes program, as well as an increase of $1.3 million to its stakes purses, according to a report in the Daily Racing Form. The new race will be open to three-year-olds and up and will run during the August 18th Arlington International Festival of Racing card, along with the G1-Arlington Million, G1-Beverly D., and the G1-Secretariat Stakes. The Secretariat, which had its purse reduced to $400,000 last year, will once again be a $500,000 race.
The Arlington St. Leger is based on the St. Leger races run in England and Ireland, each of which are contested at a distance of one mile and six furlongs. The Arlington St. Leger will run at one mile and five and a half furlongs.
Arlington Million day is already one of the best days for grass racing in the United States and the addition of a $400k race like the St. Leger should only add to that quality. The purse is high enough and the distance sufficiently unique that the race should attract a much different caliber and type of horse than the Million. Additionally, since the European owners and trainers like to ship to Arlington for the Festival, there shouldn't be a shortage of international horses looking to take a shot at a race tailor-made for them. Finally, although the race is currently ungraded (and will be until the requisite number of years have passed), this is a nice addition to the grass racing stakes calendar.
Arlington added another European-style turf race a few years ago when it started running the American 1,000 Guineas in 2008. The race was open tor three-year-old fillies at a mile and had a purse of $200,000. Sadly, the race only lasted three years and was dropped from the Arlington stakes calendar in 2010.