Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/13/2015 9:30 PM

Sports legends will be at Million

Success - Article sent! close

The winner's circle for the Arlington Million will include more than just one champion on Saturday.

There will also be a World Series, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup champion.

Arlington marketing director Howard Sudberry has lined up former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, former Bears coach Mike Ditka and former hockey Hall of Famer Denis Savard (won Stanley Cup with Montreal Canadiens) to present the trophies for the winning Million owner, trainer and jockey.

The 33rd running of Illinois' richest turf race will be televised in an hour-long broadcast on WGN-TV from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature live runnings of the Million and the Beverly D.

Should the Million results still be pending past 6 p.m., Sudberry said the WGN telecast from Arlington will remain on the air.

Globe trotting: The International Festival theme even extends into the press box at Arlington where Abigail Rajiah serves as an administrator.

The French-born Rajiah moved to London when she was 2 years old, then moved back to France (Chantilly) at the age of 10. She eventually earned a degree in strategic management.

Rajiah worked eight years as a recruitment manager in Paris, London and Madrid before heading to South Korea to work as a career coordinator for international jockeys.

She is still a coordinator for French jockey Jerome Lermyte, who has ridden in many countries and currently has collected 10 wins in the United States.

From 7 to 13: The Arlington Million field has gone from one of the smallest to one of the biggest in one year. Last year, just seven went to post in a race won by Hardest Core.

Thirteen horses will go postward Saturday, second only to the record of 14 set five times.

"Some race tracks throughout the country would bite your hand off for this kind of field (13 in the Million)," said Nick Clark, the former chief executive for the International Racing Bureau. "They might even think of splitting the field."

The 13 horses are part of the 30-year anniversary of the 'Miracle Million' in 1985 when Arlington staged the race after the old grandstand burned down less than a month earlier.

"It doesn't take a miracle to win one of our four Festival races," said Arlington general manager Tony Petrillo. "It takes dedication, courage and commitment, which is something every owner and trainer has shown to get their horses where they are today.

"We wish them all the best and that each one gets the trip they need to be in the winner's circle."

The 'Voice': Jim Cornelison, who brings down the house down at the United Center with his engaging vocals, will sing the national anthem for Saturday's International Festival of Racing.

What's in a name?: The obvious question for The Pizza Man owners Richard and Karen Papiese is how their talented 6-year-old got his name.

"It's for the marking on his forehead," Papiese said, "It's shaped like a pizza slice. We got a call from the people on the farm where he was raised and they said 'The Pizza Man' would be a real good name. We said that was fine, just look it up and make sure that name isn't out there."

Being from Chicago made the decision even easier.

"If you're from Chicago or New York, the idea would be pizza," Papiese said. "Thin crust in New York and thick crust in Chicago. So the name captures it all for this horse."

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.