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Sold-Out Crowd Attends Final Races At Arlington International Racecourse

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) -- After nearly a century, Arlington International Racecourse is closing, after the racetrack held its final races on Saturday.

A sell-out crowd watched the final races on Saturday, coming from all over to reminisce and enjoy the final run of the horses.

"For most folks, it's a sad day, because of this fabulous facility, and the level of service that people receive when they're here," Arlington Racecourse President Tony Petrillo said. "But for me personally, I feel very blessed to have been able to work here, and meet so many people through they walk through the doors, and so many people who have worked here over my 28-year tenure."

Churchill Downs, which owns the 326-acre property, has announced plans to sell it to a developer.

Thoroughbred racing began at Arlington in 1927, and the track first played host to the Arlington Million in 1981. Arlington was destroyed by fire in July 1985 – with flames sweeping through the huge grandstand and leaving it a mass of charred rubble – but the racetrack still held the Arlington Million less than a month later using temporary bleachers.

In this clip of the opening minutes of a 1985 CBS 2 newscast, John Drummond has a report on the fire.

Arlington Park Race Track Fire 1985 WBBM TV 2 News Report by carvcom1 on YouTube

Arlington reopened in 1989.

After the final horses crossed the finish line on Saturday, racing fans celebrated closing day with fireworks.

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