Arlington Million runs at 6:12 p.m.: How you can watch or listen
Saturday is the annual International Festival of Racing, or Arlington Million Day, which has become the biggest day of racing in Arlington International Racecourse's calendar year.
That's because, for 37 years now, horses from around the world arrive at the Arlington Heights racetrack for a chance to compete for a $1 million purse.
The first of a dozen races on the card posted at 12:15 p.m. Saturday, with more and more pomp and circumstance leading up to the Million (Race 11) at 6:12 p.m. The Million can be watched on the cable channel Fox Sports 2 (FS2) as well as on the horse racing streaming service TVG, or heard on the Horse Racing Radio Network.
Before the Bruce D. Memorial Stakes (Race 8) at 4:20 p.m., Berwyn native Jim Peterik -- of Ides of March and Survivor fame -- will perform an acoustic version of "Eye of the Tiger."
Also in between races, Jim Cornelison will sing the national anthem and "God Bless America" -- the latter accompanied by saxophonist Frank Catalano.
Catalano will perform "Luck Be a Lady" as the horses come out to the track before the Beverly D. Stakes (Race 9) at 5:28 p.m., and Cornelison will sing "My Kind of Town" before the Million.
Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams will be among the dignitaries in the winner's circle to hand out the Million trophy to the winning horse's owner.
Increasingly, Million Day also has become the place for spectators -- whether horse racing enthusiasts or not -- to see and be seen, in what track officials compare to Illinois' version of the Kentucky Derby.
Take the best-dressed contest in the paddock after Race 4, when a panel of judges will award prizes for win, place, and show in both male and female categories. Even for those who don't enter the competition, it's common to see ladies donning hats and fascinators and guys sporting bow ties, from the suites to the betting windows on Million Day.
"It's a fashion contest throughout the whole facility," said Howard Sudberry, Arlington's senior director of marketing and communications. "I've seen more and more people dress up over the years."
Still, Sudberry said, there's a place for everybody, no matter what they wear; polo shirts and shorts are more common at the top of the stretch in the Park party area.
Some VIP and all-inclusive tickets are still available for Saturday, which range from $60 for the Million Beer Bash (including three hours of MillerCoors draft beer in the Park, where the band 7th Heaven will also perform), to $130 per person for a spot in the upstairs Turf Club (as long as you buy a table of eight).
Just to get in the door on Saturday, general admission was $30 for adults and $6 for youth. With good weather, officials expect attendance could be upward of 30,000. Gates opened at 10:30 a.m.
"There's not a bad seat in the house," Sudberry said. "It's so beautiful looking out over the infield wherever you're at. You really can't go wrong."
There's also plenty to eat and drink throughout the grandstand. Channeling the Kentucky Derby's signature drink, the mint julep, a mixologist devised the Woodford Arlington Sprint, featuring Woodford Reserve Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, tea and lemonade.
"It is delicious," Sudberry said. "Whether you're a bourbon drinker or not, it's a refreshing drink."
"It's a fun summer day," Sudberry said, "and it should be on everybody's list in Chicagoland to go."