Arlington International Racecourse

Chicago-Native, Horseracing Icon Richard Duchossois Dies at 100

Former Arlington International Racecourse owner Richard Duchossois died in his Chicago-area home Friday. He was 100.

Duchossois, better known as "Mr. D" to those close to him, "passed away peacefully" in his suburban Barrington Hills home, according to a release.

Within his vast business portfolio, Duchossois was best known to the Chicago area for rebuilding Arlington Park, the beloved racetrack located in Arlington Heights, after an electrical fire destroyed the facility in 1985.

Days after the massive fire, Duchossois held the famed "Arlington Million" race, which would later be known as the "Miracle Million," marking the first time a racetrack was awarded the Eclipse Special Award.

The "Arlington Million" continued annually until its final race in 2021, when the event was renamed to "Mr. D's Day" in honor of Duchossois.

In August, the formerly known "Arlington Million" race was a Grade I Mister D race, named for 99-year-old Dick Duchossois and run at 1¼ miles for a $600,000 purse. Other Grade I races that day included the $400,000 Beverly D. run at 1 3/16 miles for fillies and mares and the $300,000 Bruce D., formerly the Secretariat, run at 1 mile for three-year-olds.

Arlington International Racecourse President Tony Petrillo said the loss of "Mr. D" leaves the community with a heavy heart, though people are "warmed by the memories he gave and the communities he touched through his life."

“Mr. D accomplished many good things in life. He worked hard and always followed the path of honesty and integrity which is a gift that he passed on to all of us around him. We are most grateful to him for sharing this gift with us," Petrillo said in a statement.

Duchossois was born in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood on Oct. 7, 1921. According to a release, 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 that you have to try to win."

“We had a professor of military science and tactics. He always said if we’re going to get ahead, we must be second to none," Duchossois said in his book "Riding the Rails."

At the age of 20, Duchossois served with the U.S. Army in World War II, where he was assigned to the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion and served as commander of a Tank Destroyer Company through five European campaigns, a release said.

During the war, Duchossois suffered a gunshot wound, but returned to the front for The Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service.

He also received the Order of St. Maurice medallion, as well as the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest award, which was presented by the French government in Normandy on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, a release said.

In 1943, Duchossois married Beverly, with whom he had four children -- Craig, Dayle, Bruce and Kimberly. The family lived in suburban Flossmoor.

Upon returning from 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, among other businesses.

In 2000, Arlington Park merged with Churchill Downs Incorporated, a release noted. While leading horseracing at Arlington Park, Duchossois was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2019.

The release said that due to COVID-19 concerns, there will be no visitation. Funeral and burial services will be for immediate family only.

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