05/03/2006 12:00AM

What's new? Just about everything

Powerscourt wins the 2005 Arlington Million. It goes this year on Aug. 12.

What's new at Arlington Park in 2006? Try another approach - what isn't.

There is a new starting date - a week earlier than usual - new president, new director of racing, new in-house television talent, and even some new wagers on the horizon. But you'll still recognize the ship and her captain.

Arlington, the jewel of a racetrack in the northwest Chicago suburbs, still offers up its same classy panache. And you will still find circulating energetically through the crowd on a busy day its 84-year-old chairman, Richard Duchossois.

Duchossois, however, has new lieutenants. In as president is Colonel Roy Arnold, who has come to Arlington straight from the Marine Corps, replacing Cliff Goodrich. And steering the course of the racing program is Kevin Greely, who came to Chicago from Dubai months after Frank Gabriel departed his post here for a position in Dubai.

Greely - an Arlington racing office employee more than 20 years ago - has not worked at a United States racetrack since 1994, when he was at Keeneland as an assistant racing secretary and Fair Grounds as a steward. But Greely still is ahead of Arnold, who has taken a crash course in horse racing since he was tapped for the position of Arlington president less than two months ago.

Arnold spent 30 years in the military, and as of last winter was ready to be deployed for his third tour of duty in Iraq, where he oversaw all Marine aircraft operations. But Arnold was not promoted to brigadier general, and without the promotion, military protocol required him to retire from the Marines as of June 1. So, he signed on to a program that matches Marine officers with private sector executive positions, and eventually found he was in the mix for a job at a racetrack.

"I was told what the position was, and after about 20 seconds - pregnant pause - I said, 'Well, that's very interesting,' " Arnold said in an interview last week.

Arnold said his father enjoyed racing, and Arnold knows people who work for Del Mar. But basically, he is coming into the job cold. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. "I don't have expectations of what you can and cannot do," he said. "Hopefully, what I'm giving them is a fresh set of parameters."

Greely is getting a fresh look at American racing after his long tour in Dubai, though he comes from an old Kentucky racing family and said he has kept current with happenings in this country during his time abroad. He knows, for instance, that entries do not overflow during the summer at Arlington.

"It's always been a tough place to fill races," Greeley said.

Arlington, as usual, is running a two-tiered meet, with a season that looks a lot like the recently included National Jockey Club meet - albeit with more turf racing - until Churchill Downs ends in July. Then, the stakes schedule - headed as always by Arlington Million Day - kicks into gear, and more Kentucky shippers begin to show up. But Greely said he isn't holding stalls open for horsemen who aren't ready to settle in now, and neither has he planned any major revisions to the Frank Gabriel era.

"I didn't make any drastic changes from last year," Greely said.

The trainers' roster will look a lot like 2005, but after a one-year absence, D. Wayne Lukas is back with a barn full of horses. Jim Chapman, usually based in Florida, also is expected with a significant contingent. The leading rider from last year, Shaun Bridgmohan, and the guy who preceded him, Rene Douglas, both are staying put in Kentucky for now. Former New York rider Ariel Smith is new to town and has been picking up mounts for trainer Wayne Catalano, who is even-money to be leading trainer this summer.

Arlington television host Christine Gabriel is Frank Gabriel's wife, and she too has gone to Dubai. New faces Molly Ryan and Lauren Mossorella replace her. And in July, Arlington expects to roll out three new wagers: match-up bets similar to head-to-head wagers in the Breeders' Cup, a win-place-show multi-race wager, and an exacta double.

Opening day drew 79 horses for a nine-race card highlighted by the $40,000 Shecky Greene for 3-year-old sprinters. Kingsfield, Celluloid Hero, and Lissa's Star look like the primary contenders in a six-horse field.

At a glance

RACING SCHEDULE: 95 days; Friday through Sept. 12; racing Wednesday through Sunday, dark Mondays and Tuesdays. Racing Monday, May 29, Tuesday, July 4, Monday, Sept. 4, and Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 11, 12

POST TIME: 1 p.m. Central Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday; 3 p.m. on Fridays; 2:30 p.m on Monday, July 3; 11:45 a.m. on Arlington Million day, Aug. 12


July 22American Derby (G2)$250,000
July 29Washington Park Handicap (G2)300,000
Aug. 12Arlington Million XXIV (G1)1,000,000
Aug. 12Beverly D. (G1)750,000
Aug. 12Secretariat Stakes (G1)400,000

ADMISSIONS: General, $6, Twin Spires Club, $5; seniors on Wednesdays, $3

SEATING: Reserved, $3 ; box, $6; Player's Lounge simulcast center, $4; Silks and Starting Gate Theater simulcast center, $3

SPECIAL EVENTS: Party in the Park, Fridays; Pepsi Family Day and Junior Jockey Club, Saturdays and Sundays

LOCATION: At Euclid Ave. and Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, IL

PHONE: (847) 385-7300

INTERNET: www.arlingtonpark.com