The Arlington Classic has been run in some form since 1929, though it has only been run on grass since 1994, and at its current distance since 2002. It began at the American Classic distance – a mile and a quarter on the dirt — but has been run at distances as short as a mile. It has been limited to three-year-olds through its entire history except for 1977, when it was run as the Arlington Classic Invitational Handicap, and was open to the handicap division. A pair of Triple Crown winners count the Arlington Classic among their victories — Gallant Fox (1930) and his son Omaha (1935). Alydar (1978), second behind Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races, found the winners’ circle here as well. Other top horses who counted the Arlington Classic among their wins include Hall of Fame inductees Native Dancer (1953), Nashua (1955), Swoon’s Son (1956), Buckpasser (1966), Dr. Fager (1967), and other Champions T. V. Lark (1960), Tom Rolfe (1965), and Smile (1985).
Nowadays, the $100,000 race is the first in Arlington’s series of sophomore turf races. It serves as a local prep for the American Derby (G3) on Ride to the Million Day (Saturday, July 7), which in turn prepares runners for the Secretariat Stakes (G1) on Million Day (Saturday, August 11).