Some Things Don’t Look Right

By Joe Quillen

Steve Carlton in a San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians or Minnesota Twins uniform. Brian Dawkins with the Denver Broncos. Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards. Wayne Gretzky in St. Louis. Some things just don’t look right. This weekend, I can add the Arlington Million being held at Colonial Downs as another one of those things that just do not look right.

look right

For those that know me, my interest in sports is all over the sports spectrum. For example, I will sit here, sometimes while I work at home watching such things as Little League baseball or the Women’s College World Series if it is the only thing on my television. There are days that I will watch games where my teams are not involved, like earlier on Sunday watching the Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox on Peacock.

People who know me, including those that watch my stream on No Filter or listen to my podcast The Philly Guy Speaks know that I am not afraid to throw a wager or two down, like I did on Saturday.

Granted, I don’t have a real connection with the race itself, the Arlington Million. But I do have two connections surrounding this race. I visited the former racetrack twice on trips to Chicago in 2007 and 2009, and I met Jason Beem, who is the race caller for Colonial Downs, and the current voice of the Million. Since I thought I’d dabble a bit on the races on Saturday, it eventually led me to this topic.

Don’t look right!

don't look right

From the moment I first accessed the past performances for Saturday’s Colonial Downs card until the moment I closed the TwinSpires tab on my Google Chrome after the Million ending my day of losing wagers, things just did not seem right. There was no Central Time Zone clock on my screen as I’m watching the lead up to the three big races, and there was no John G. Dooley, the last track announcer at the Arlington Heights oval, calling the race.

Nothing against my friend Jason Beem, it just didn’t seem right, although his call was what I expected. It was a professional job for “Virginia’s Maiden Million,” and made me proud that I crossed paths with him on Twitter and at Parx Racing.

Also watching the other Arlington Park signature races, the Secretariat and the Beverly D didn’t seem right at the Virginia racetrack either. Granted, the Beverly D ran last year at Churchill, but the big three races which were the main event in the Chicagoland area made its way eastward under the Churchill Downs banner.

But why is it now at Colonial Downs? First, CDI (Churchill Downs Inc.) sold the Arlington Park property to the Chicago Bears. The real estate value was too high to substantiate holding horse racing at the oval, no matter how historic an oval it was. Interest in horse racing has waned for years in all facets of the game, not just in the Chicagoland area. So as much as it hurts many horseplayers, including myself, Arlington Park is no more.

Second, it makes sense to move the signature races to Colonial Downs, which CDI purchased within the last 12 months. Unlike last year, where the Beverly D and the Arlington Million were held at Churchill Downs for a special one-day meet in August, moving it to Colonial allowed the races to be held at their original distances of a mile and 3/16 and a mile and a quarter, respectively after running the races each at a mile and 1/8 due to Churchill’s track configuration.

look right

I miss the suburban Chicago racetrack. Every August or September when the MLB schedule came out, the first thing I would look for was when the Phillies annual trip to Chicago would be, which is another travesty that my team goes to Chicago only once in the regular season. It seemed like most road trips after my 2009 trip to the Windy City conflicted with work.

There were a few Friday to Sunday series which would not be conducive to a trip to the Northwest suburbs. There were series that landed on holiday weeks, which lead me to not be able to get that week off at my job. Now, as Philly radio Bill Campbell once said, it’s another “thing that isn’t around anymore.”

Maybe I’m just waxing poetic here, but I miss Arlington. The track was the cleanest place I ever saw in the world of horse racing. It was the only place I ever went to where I did not helicopter my losing tickets to see how far they would go.

Instead of doing that, the tickets ended up in the trash can, which I should be doing wherever I go on track to dispose my losing tickets, or maybe I can still entertain myself at Parx or Delaware Park with the unpredictability of how far or what direction that losing ticket will go and leaving the former summer race place of the Midwest a fond memory I had in the early 2000s.

Arlington park

But Arlington Park is just like that losing ticket. It’s no more. It is just a memory, like Pete Rose in a Montreal Expos uniform. It is a signature race in a different venue, like a player putting on a totally different uniform. It just does not look right. RIP Arlington Park.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *