Arlington International Racecourse is expected to welcome thousands of horse racing fans Saturday for the 36th running of the Arlington Million -- the race that's put the Arlington Heights track on the world map.
But beyond the race itself -- one of a dozen on the card -- Million Day has become just as much about what's happening off the track.
36th Arlington MillionWhere: Arlington International Racecourse, 2200 W. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights
When: Saturday, Aug. 11; gates open at 10:30 a.m.; first post at 12:15 p.m.; Million race at 6:08 p.m.
Cost: $30 general admission (adults), $5 (youths), or VIP ticket options
More information: arlingtonpark.com or (847) 385-7500
"We like to say there's really something for everybody," said Howard Sudberry, Arlington's senior director of marketing and communications. "The beauty of the facility, the grounds, the electricity, the fashion contests. ... There are a variety of experiences you can participate in."
Gates open at 10:30 a.m. with $30 general admission and $5 for youths. Tickets are available for various all-inclusive VIP areas, including $128 to mingle in the marquee tents near the finish line and $165 for the International Skyline Lounge.
Within Arlington's The Park party zone area, Grammy-nominated country artist Eric Paslay will perform after Race 8 for an hour, preceded by a live DJ starting at 1 p.m. The music is free with a general admission ticket.
The annual best-dressed contest -- a panel of judges pick female and male winners from a top 20 list -- will be after Race 4 near the paddock. The contest is limited to the first 100 contestants who sign up.
"People can and do dress-up, like they do for Kentucky Derby Day," Sudberry said. "Women wear their best hats and dresses, and guys in their bow ties."
As it gets closer to the big races of the day, Arlington will bring out noted local performers while the horses prepare to enter the starting gates. Jim Cornelison will sing the national anthem after Race 5, and "God Bless America" after Race 6, accompanied by saxophonist Frank Catalano. Catalano will play "Sweet Home Chicago" before Race 9 (Secretariat Stakes).
Crooner Johnny Vincent will perform "Luck Be a Lady" before Race 10 (Beverly D.) and "My Kind of Town" before Race 11 (Million).
"That's the song we've kind of adopted, like 'My Old Kentucky Home' for the Kentucky Derby," Sudberry said. "There's a lot of pomp and circumstance."