03/05/2009 1:00AM

$500K bonus tied to Mid-America Triple


CHICAGO - Arlington Park's Mid-America Triple finally will be bound by more than just a name, with the suburban Chicago racecourse offering a $500,000 bonus to the owner of a horse who sweeps the three-race series of 3-year-old grass stakes this summer.

The Mid-America Triple consists of the $150,000 Arlington Classic on May 23, the $300,000 American Derby on July 11, and the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 8. Honor Glide swept the series in 1997, the only horse to do so since the Mid-America Triple became an all-turf series. When the Mid-America Triple was comprised of dirt races, such luminaries as Buckpasser and Tom Rolfe swept the series during the 1960s. In recent years, however, few horses have even contested all three races.

"By offering this lucrative bonus, we hope to not only reward success but also to restore this historic series to its past luster," Arlington vice president of racing Kevin Greely said in a press release Thursday.

The bonus could help raise the stature of Arlington's races, especially with regard to the rich 3-year-old turf series at Colonial Downs, which offers two high-purse 3-year-old grass stakes, the $600,000 Colonial Turf Cup in June, and the $750,000 Virginia Derby in July. A horse that won both those races would earn about $810,000, while a sweep of the Arlington series, with the new bonus added in, would be worth $1,010,000.