The Arlington Million was the first thoroughbred race to offer a purse of US$1,000,000. It is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, and the winner automatically qualifies for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
The Arlington Million was introduced in 1981 by Joe Joyce, the president of Arlington Park at the time. The winner receives 60% of the million dollar purse and the Arlington Million Trophy. The race was graded after only its second running and was awarded a grade one status in 1983 based on the talent of the runners that raced in its first two years.
The horse John Henry won the race twice. On August 30, 1981, Willie Shoemaker became the first jockey to win a $1 million thoroughbred horse race when John Henry took the inaugural Arlington Million by a nose over The Bart. The track famously ran the Arlington Million in 1985 under the shadow of a burnt-out grandstand, after a fire had occurred there 25 days earlier.
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