Father’s Day at Arlington Park

When I asked Graham what he wanted to do on his first Father’s Day, he said he wanted to go to the racetrack. I already knew he would say that.

We each have a history with horse-racing. My grandparents would take me to the racetrack as a child, and I have fond memories of spending time with them. My grandpa died when I was 14, so those memories are some of the few I can remember vividly.

Graham is from Louisville, Kentucky, home of Churchill Downs, where the greatest two minutes in sports happen. He, too, has memories at the track, and Churchill Downs is one of the most well known race venues in the sport.

We were excited to spend the day together as a family and hopefully create some fond memories for Victoria, but we had no idea what to expect because neither of us had been to Arlington Park. We bought our general admission tickets ($18 each) online to save time and cash, along with a program for the day ($2.50). It took us about 50 minutes to drive from our neighborhood in Chicago to Arlington Heights. I was nervous about having to find parking, but there’s actually plenty of free parking, as well as preferred and valet options.

We also didn’t know whether we should bring a cooler since all the picnic tables had been reserved. We chose to instead eat ahead of time vs. paying a cooler fee ($5). It was pretty easy to find a free bench on the Apron level to watch the races. (Just don’t get up, you’ll lose your spot.) And had we brought a cooler, we would have had plenty of room for it in front of our bench seating. We saw many families enjoying their sandwiches, snacks and drinks. A blanket or towel is also not a bad idea to put on the bench, which can get warm in the sun. Luckily we had intermittent shade due to the clouds, and the breeze kept us cool. I was so grateful for that.

Victoria loved cheering on during the races, yelling “Go, horse, go!” It was the most adorable thing ever and was not prompted at all. Arlington Park is a perfect place for kids because they can be as loud as they want. Everyone else is yelling, too! We didn’t have any luck with our bets, though we came so close –photo finish close — many times.

It was simply the most gorgeous day for it. Graham had a great time, and that’s all I could have asked for.

Have you been to Arlington Park?