Arlington Park Race Track Owner Richard Duchossois Dies at Age 100

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Richard Duchossois (SOURCE: Military photo/public domain)
Richard Duchossois (SOURCE: Military photo/public domain).

Richard Duchossois, affectionately called “Mr. D”, especially among dedicated staff at the Arlington Park property, died Friday, January 28, 2022 at the age of 100. He is best known as the owner of Arlington Park (later Arlington International Racecourse), and later a major shareholder of Churchill Downs Incorporated.




Born on October 7, 1921, Duchossois lived in the Beverly neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago, and graduated from Morgan Park Military Academy in the Morgan Park neighborhood near Beverly. He married his high school sweetheart, Beverly, and then attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington University before starting active military service during World War II. Richard Duchossois served in five European campaigns in World War II, including Normandy where he was a tank commander with the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion of the United States Army. Duchossois landed on Utah Beach a month after the D-Day invasion. He was a tank commander under General George Patton, and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Duchossois also served as the military governor for the region of Eichstätt and attained the rank of Major before he was released from active service in 1946. He received a Purple Heart for his injuries in combat at the Moselle River between Germany and France where he was initially marked for dead at a field hospital.




When Duchossois returned from World War II, he joined his wife Beverly’s family business, Thrall Car Manufacturing Co. The business grew, and his portfolio expanded with the purchase of Chamberlain Manufacturing Group, broadcast outlets and eventually Arlington Park after Beverly died of cancer.

During the end of the timeline for Arlington Park (Arlington International), Richard Duchossois became known as chairman emeritus of Arlington Park. With three business partners he purchased the horseracing track in 1983 from Gulf & Western — an American conglomerate in clothing, entertainment, industry, mass media and publishing that was selling off all non-entertainment and publishing divisions in the 1980s. Duchossois took total control of the racecourse from the other two business partners in 1986, and then merged the track assets with Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) in 2000. After the merger with CDI, Duchossois and his family were the largest shareholders shareholders of CDI.




Weeks after a major fire July 31, 1985 that destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse, ‘Teleprompter’ won the 1985 Arlington Million with the race announced by the fabulous voice of Phil Georgeffe. YouTube Tips ⓘ

Duchossois was the commander that pushed to run the Arlington Million with temporary grandstands even after a major fire destroyed the large grandstand and clubhouse on July 31, 1985. Duchossois led the effort to remove massive pieces of debris from the destroyed grandstand in time for the Arlington Million a fews weeks away. Workers erected temporary stands, and the Arlington Million international horse race was held with people allowed in the infield in addition to the temporary grandstands. The new, beautiful six-story grandstand was completed in 1989, and the track re-opened as Arlington International Racecourse.

Duchossois kept a framed photograph of groundskeepers grooming the track with the still-smoldering ruins in the background with the caption “Quit? Hell NO!” … At his 100th birthday, 12 days after the final day at Arlington International Racecourse, Richard Duchossois was presented with the US flag that flew at Arlington International Racecourse. The flag was lowered for the last time by the Arlington Heights Police Department Honor Guard.




Arlington Heights Police Department Honor Guard car for the US Flag at Arlington International on the final day (SOURCE: Arlington Heights Police Department)
Arlington Heights Police Department Honor Guard car for the US Flag at Arlington International on the final day (SOURCE: Arlington Heights Police Department).
Arlington Heights Police Department Honor Guard car for the US Flag at Arlington International on the final day (SOURCE: Arlington Heights Police Department)
Arlington Heights Police Department Honor Guard car for the US Flag at Arlington International on the final day (SOURCE: Arlington Heights Police Department).

The Beverly D. Stakes, run for the first time in 1987, was named for Beverly D. Duchossois, and was part of the Arlington International Festival of Racing, which was a series of turf races that was among the richest in the United States.




Richard L. Duchossois is survived by his wife, Mary Judith, whom he married in 2000, after his wife Beverly died in 1980, three children, two stepchildren and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His son Bruce preceded him in death in 2014.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic guidelines, no visitation is scheduled, and the funeral and burial services will be attended by immediate family only.

See also …

Bloodhorse | Man Behind the Million




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