08/19/2002 12:00AM

Million Day sets handle record


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - For the second straight year, single-day handle records for Arlington Park and Illinois were set on Arlington Million Day.

Saturday's 12-race program attracted $15,851,625 in all-sources wagering. Last year, just over $14 million was wagered on Million Day.

Ontrack handle was $2,982,085, and attendance was 27,431. Attendance surpassed that of the two Million days since Arlington reopened in 2000 following a two-year hiatus, but was short of the 29,435 who attended in 1997. The all-time Million attendance record of 39,053 was set in 1984, when John Henry won the race for the second time.

"Obviously we're thrilled with the response that racing fans gave to Million Day," said Arlington chairman Richard Duchossois.

Ontrack attendance Sunday was 10,004, compared to the 6,722 that showed up the day after the Million last year.

See you soon

While the winners of the three Festival events have been flown back to California, each can be expected to return for the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, which will be run at Arlington for the first time.

Million champion Beat Hollow will be pointed to the BC Mile and not the 1 1/2-mile Turf because of distance considerations, said trainer Bobby Frankel, adding that Chiselling will be seriously considered for the Turf because of how the colt relished the distance and going in winning the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat.

Although Beverly D. winner Golden Apples will almost certainly go in the Filly and Mare Turf, runner-up Astra may not run.

"It will depend on the weather," said trainer Laura de Seroux. "I wouldn't want any more give in the ground than there was Saturday."

Tough trips

Longshots failed to finish in the money in the Million, but at least two had viable excuses for their narrow defeats. Falcon Flight, fifth at 17-1, and Paolini, sixth at nearly 8-1, both lacked sufficient room to pass the top finishers in the stretch.

"I had nowhere to go," said Rene Douglas, who was trapped along the rail aboard Falcon Flight.

"The field was so packed, I had no place to run," said Andreas Suborics, who won last year aboard Silvano but had considerably worse luck Saturday on Paolini.

Blanket finish, but logical

The margins among the first six finishers in the Million read like a scrambled anatomy report: head, nose, head, nose, neck.

The previous Million most closely resembling that cavalry charge was the 1991 running, when Tight Spot won by a head over Algenib, with Kartajana another neck back in third and Chenin Blanc another neck back in fourth.

Despite the top six finishing so closely together, it was the first time in Million history that the top three favorites ran one-two-three. Beat Hollow was favored, Sarafan was second choice, and Forbidden Apple was the third choice.

The closest to that result was in 1987, when favored Manila won over third choice Sharrood, with second choice Theatrical finishing third.

* By earning 12 points for the victory, Beat Hollow became a contender in the fourth annual World Series Racing Championship. With five of the 14 events having been completed, Grandera leads with 16 points over four other horses with 12: Street Cry, Eishin Preston, Golan, and Beat Hollow.