Jim O'Donnell: Elegant memories of Duchossois, Million too much for CDI to leave alone

  • A message reading, "Thanks Arlington for a Million Memories" plays on the infield video screen Sept. 18, 2021, at Arlington Park. The next Arlington Million will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

    A message reading, "Thanks Arlington for a Million Memories" plays on the infield video screen Sept. 18, 2021, at Arlington Park. The next Arlington Million will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Associated Press

Updated 3/16/2022 5:37 PM

NEWS THAT THAT SOME KNOCKOFF of the Arlington Million will be held in August at Churchill Downs is like hearing the Bears are being forced to relocate to south central Louisville.

Which is as encouraging as finding out Billy Ray Cyrus is on the achy breaky comeback trail.


Dadgum ... yahoo.

As history proves, when the Churchill Inc. of Bunker Bill Carstanjen and his burgoo munchers slice into any aspect of thoroughbred racing in Illinois, nothing good happens.

In this case, they are merely stripping a carcass.

They are marauding cash illusionists who capitalize on "geography" and "reputation," according to their own SEC filings.

WHEN AP PRESIDENT JOE JOYCE and Daily Racing Form columnist Joe Hirsch conceived the Million back in 1979-80, they nailed three critical launch considerations:

• The event would billboard thoroughbred racing from a global-class metropolis;

• The seven-figure purse would draw instant international attention; and,

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• The 10-furlong race would be run on one of the most grand turf course in the history of Planet Camptown.

NOW, CARSTANJEN AND SPREAD SHEETERS insist on delivering yet another cynical shot to the profoundly diminished chops of Illinois racing.

Louisville ain't Chicago.

That $1 million of 1981 would now require more than $3 million to match. On the spectrum of sports dollar figures in 2022, even that's not very eye-popping.

Plus, the turf course at Churchill Downs is an OK industrial spin. But it's nowhere near the legacied lushness of Arlington.

IN ONE OF THE CRUELEST CUTS of all this past summer, in the final season of racing at AP under the CDI flag, ol' Bunker Bill allowed the purse of the mane event to be cut to $600,000 and renamed "in honor" of Mr. Dick Duchossois.

Quite a tribute.

With the late Mr. Duchossois approaching age 100, Carstanjen and crew couldn't even successfully execute all of the mechanics necessary to hold the purse of the Million at a million for the farewell of "Mr. D."


Very sensitive and constructive.

THERE IS LITTLE FAIRNESS OR CONSISTENCY in thoroughbred racing, as CDI's staggered oversight of the last three runnings of the Kentucky Derby has proved.

But it does not seem excessively unreasonable that even a money-for-nothing corporation such as Churchill would have the baseline group character to leave the more elegant racing memories of Dick Duchossois and Arlington Park alone.

Instead, yet another postcard from Louisville replete with nothing but more achy breaky.

Dadgum ... yahoo.

STREET-BEATIN': Turning the beat around, from the crystal Velcro of Ivan B. Insouciant, three double-guaranteed cashables from the NCAA's First Thursday: Colorado State (+2½) over Michigan (CBS, 11:15 a.m.); Boise State (+3) past Memphis (TNT, 12:25 p.m.) and Murray State (+1½) to outrace San Francisco (CBS, 8:40 p.m.) ...

On Friday, Lucas Williamson and 10-seed Loyola (a popular -1½) couldn't be catching slumping Ohio State at a better time (CBS, 11:15 a.m.). The Ramblers will also be on WIND-AM (560) with Jeff Hagedorn, Chris Sparks and Sam Levitt at the microphones. ...

How many of the Champaign weary have noticed that coaching castoff John Groce has MAC tourney champ Akron in Thursday against 4-seed UCLA (TBS, 8:50 p.m.)? Among the Zips awaiting their close-ups is instant cheer starter Ali Ali. ...

The golden vocal-cord race continued Wednesday when ESPN/ABC confirmed the huge-money hires of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck for "Monday Night Football." The fact that both frequently edge into "tedious" apparently means nothing in The Waxen Halls of Bristol. ...

Former "MNF"analyst Brian Griese -- one of the NFL's consistently good guys -- has signed on as quarterbacks coach of the Forty-Niners. (He must be one of the happiest men on Earth to escape from Steve Levy.) ...

Mike McCarthy and the flatlining Marquee Sports Network are starting an "Unknown Cubs Show." New studio analyst Cliff Floyd played one nondescript season (2007) with the team; rookie Marquee mate Cameron Maybin appeared in all of 18 games in 2020. ...

The retirement of 40-year-old Rams LT Andrew Whitworth prompted L.L. Walls to note: "NFL offensive linemen are spotlighted three times in their careers -- when they're drafted, when they retire and when they're called for holding penalties." ...

And Gotham skeptic Phil Mushnick, on whether John Calipari's Kentucky men's teams still hold Senior Night: "Yes, but it's for high school seniors recruited by Kentucky."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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