Arlington Park closes after nearly a century of horse racing in the Chicago area

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- As thousands of horse racing fans head home from Arlington Park Saturday night, some might have a touch more cash in their pockets, while others might not be so lucky.

RELATED: Arlington Park fans prepare to say goodbye ahead of race track's final weekend

Regardless, everyone at the track on the picturesque fall day does share something in common. They were there when the sun set on Arlington Park.

"It's a sad thing for Arlington Heights, for sure," said longtime fan Diane Scrowka.

For nearly a century -- since 1927 -- people have flocked to the suburban race track, creating years of memories.

"I saw Secretariat race here years and years ago," said Susan Rusco. "Lots of good times, a lots of family times."

RELATED: Arlington Park's opening day takes 'final turn' amid COVID-19 pandemic

It's a place that may take you back in time.

"It's kind of a pillar of the past. You can dress up and live like you're in another time," said Lauren Dietzel.

However, people come to the races for that and more.

Arlington's owners said that the gambling market has shrunk over time as casinos landed in the Chicago area.

"When horse racing was the only game in town, everybody betted on horse racing," said Tony Petrillo, president of Arlington International Racecourse.

Now, not only is the sport losing in popularity, but Arlington Park is also up for sale. Some may even bet on the Chicago Bears moving in.

RELATED: Could the Chicago Bears move their stadium from Soldier Field to Arlington Park?

"The bidding process seems to be completing. The review process is in order," Petrillo said.

But Saturday, the focus was on the races. On the 9th and final sending, the sellout crowd eagerly as close as they could get for one last party.

With that photo finish, Arlington Park closing after nearly a century of horse racing in the Chicago area, sharing a video of a fireworks show closing out the night.

But perhaps another sound will echo louder as a memory of the bittersweet smiles and the adrenaline rush was felt one last time
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