ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - It was a spectacular day for thousands of people who headed to Arlington Park for the annual running of the Arlington Million.
But it was also a sad day for many because the historic track is scheduled to close for good in a little more than a month.
Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen with the massive property when Arlington Park closes for good on September 26.
And while there’s a lot of speculation that this could be the future home of the Chicago Bears, Saturday was a day for looking back and remembering.
It was a priceless day for the Arlington Million. Bright sunshine, fancy hats and a wager or two. But more than anything, it was a day for memories.
"Bittersweet memories. I’ve been coming here since the late 70s. Just always enjoyed it," said Gary Delaney, an Arlington Park fan.
"Very sad to not have this as an option in the years coming, but we’re glad to be here," said Lisa Saeger.
"It’s a tragic day. I love horseracing. I feel bad for the people who actually work in the business in the state of Illinois," said Jerry Ahern.
For Jane and Jerry Zahora, Arlington Park is much more than a race track.
"It’s very special to us. We got engaged here Fourth of July 2012. And we also got married here as well at the paddock out in front," said Jane Zamora of Palatine.
Arlington Park opened in 1927 and has played host to The Million since 1981. And while the track will likely be gone by this time next year, there’s a chance The Million will survive.
"Our company has committed to thoroughbred racing on a long-term sustainable way, and are looking for other locations to carry on the Arlington name," said Tony Petrillo, Arlington Park President.
Petrillo said it’s possible the race could be moved to another facility.
As for the fate of this massive 360-acre site, that’s to be determined. But fans are hoping for another sports venue.
"The Bears should build a retractable dome stadium here. With all the retail around it they make themselves another fortune," said Delaney.
The last Million race sold out with 10,000 tickets sold. While the park can accommodate as many as 30,000 spectators, the general manager said they could not find enough people to work in order to fully open the facility.