If the weather cooperates and you put on a good show, the fans will show up -- and they will wager -- as the folks at Arlington Park discovered Saturday.
The 2012 Arlington Million crowd of 34,022 not only represented a 10 percent increase from the 31,069 that attended in 2011, but it also was the largest Million Day crowd since the current facility opened in 1989 and the fourth highest in the 30-year history of the Million.
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On track, the $2,891,660 bet was 13 percent higher than the $2,562,613 handled the previous year.
But it wasn't just those on-track who were digging into their wallets. The all-sources commingled handle of $14,785,748 was 14 percent higher than the $13,017,554 wagered on last year's Million Day card.
"The addition of the American St. Leger to an already strong program of Grade I turf races plus an outstanding undercard of races put together by our director of racing, Chris Polzin, proves that racing fans around the country and around the world will attend and wager on high quality racing," said Arlington Park general manager Tony Petrillo.
Long distance dedication:
Count trainer Chris Block among those who are fans of the American St. Leger, the inaugural edition of which was run on Million Day.
"I think it's a great idea to bring new flavor to Illinois racing," said Block, who's runner Ioya Bigtime finished a good second behind Jakkalberry in the 1 11/16ths-mile marathon on Saturday. "These kind of races ... there aren't that many out there.
"I think if you can put a field together that can be solid, it's a good race for the future."
Sunday marked the final day at Arlington Park this season for track bugler Jean Laurenz, who is returning to Yale University to finish up her master's degree in music.
The Prospect High School grad wrapped up her final day with yet another sterling rendition of the national anthem.