Former Arlington International Racetrack owner Richard Duchossois died Friday at his Chicago-area home. He was 100 years old.
Duchossois, better known as “Mr. D” to those close to him, “passed away peacefully” at his suburban home in Barrington Hills, according to a statement.
Within his extensive portfolio of businesses, Duchossois was best known in the Chicago area for rebuilding Arlington Park, the beloved racetrack located in Arlington Heights, after an electrical fire destroyed the facility in 1985.
A few days after the massive fire, Duchossois organized the famous “Arlington Million” race, which would later be known as the “Miracle Million”, marking the first time a racecourse had received the special Eclipse award.
The “Arlington Million” continued each year until its last race in 2021, when the event was renamed “Mr. D’s Day” in Duchossois’ honor.
In August, the race formerly known as “Arlington Million” was a Grade I Mister D race, named after 99-year-old Dick Duchossois, and run 1¼ miles for a $600,000 purse. Other Grade I races that day included Beverly D.’s $400,000 race at 1 3/16 miles for fillies and mares and Bruce D.’s $300,000 race, formerly Secretariat, at 1 mile for three year olds.
Arlington International Racetrack President Tony Petrillo said the loss of ‘Mr. D’ leaves the community with a heavy heart, although people are ‘warmed by the memories he gave and the communities that he touched throughout his life”.
“Mr. D accomplished many good things in life. He worked hard and always followed the path of honesty and integrity, a gift he passed on to all of us around him. We are his very grateful to have shared this gift with us,” Petrillo said in a statement.
Duchossois was born in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago on October 7, 1921. According to a statement, he was a veteran, philanthropist, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
He attended Morgan Park Military Academy, where Duchossois said he “learned discipline of the mind and trying to win”.
“We had a professor of military science and tactics. He always said that if we want to get ahead, we have to be unrivaled,” Duchossois said in his book “Riding the Rails.”
At the age of 20, Duchossois served in the United States Army during World War II, where he was assigned to the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion and served as a tank destroyer company commander during five European campaigns, according to a press release.
During the war, Duchossois was shot and wounded, but returned to the front for La Bataille des Ardennes. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service.
He also received the medallion of the Order of Saint-Maurice, as well as the Legion of Honor, the highest French distinction, awarded by the French government in Normandy on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, according to a press release. .
In 1943, Duchossois married Beverly, with whom he had four children: Craig, Dayle, Bruce and Kimberly. The family lived in the suburb of Flossmoor.
Returning from the war, Duchossois joined his wife’s family business, Thrall Car Manufacturing Company, which was acquired by Trinity Rail Group in 2001. Duchossois then purchased Chamberlain Manufacturing Group, Broadcast Outlets and Arlington Park, between other companies.
In 2000, Arlington Park merged with Churchill Downs Incorporated, according to a release. While running the horse races at Arlington Park, Duchossois was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2019.
The release says that due to COVID-19 concerns, there will be no viewings. Funeral and burial services will be for immediate family only.