Monday, August 21, 2000
Updated: August 23, 2:59 PM ET
A Million successes
By Kenny Mayne
Special to ESPN.com
It sounded like a boatload of money back in 1981 when they first staged the
That's what the track's complaint was about. Boatloads of people
gambling on rivers--not at the racetrack (it's a common complaint elsewhere as well).
And a staple of North American racing simply vanished.
Saturday's staging of the Arlington Million (for $2 million--but the name
Arlington Million remained impressive enough) was a multi-layered
story about comebacks. You've seen athletes sit out a season when the deal wasn't right. In this
case it was the whole franchise (and all the attendant jobs that went with
it) that was taken out of commission for two seasons. The legislators and the track
got things together and subsequently it appears Arlington will be getting
together with Churchill Downs for even better standing.
It would have been well enough for the race to merely be staged. A track
back in business, a tradition restored.
But instead the Million offered up one return to form after another.
Frankie Dettori was there. So he finished last. But he raced. That, like staging the race, was achievement alone. All of Dettori's seasons were nearly canceled in a plane crash that claimed the life of his pilot.
Bobby Frankel was back. He'd never won this event in 12 tries. And he was
trying this time with Chester House, who hadn't won in his last nine outs.
Jerry Bailey's comeback was race related only. He took a chance that a hole
would open for him on the rail. And it did.
It was big enough for Chester House. It wasn't big enough for a boat. But
then, it had already been established that this place was big enough for
both boats and horses to thrive.