Remembering Richard Duchossois, Equestrian Visionary

Richard Duchossois: A Hero and Racing Legend

Richard Duchossois, an esteemed World War II veteran and accomplished businessman, passed away at the age of 100 at his suburban Chicago home on Friday. His legacy will forever be intertwined with horse racing, as he transformed Arlington Park into one of the most remarkable racetracks in the country. This article pays tribute to a man who left an indelible mark on the horse racing world.

The Visionary Businessman

Born on October 7, 1921, in Chicago, Richard Duchossois led a remarkable life. After graduating from Morgan Park Military Academy and Washington & Lee University, he was inducted into the Army, where he served in five major European campaigns during World War II. Duchossois demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and bravery, commanding a tank destroyer battalion under General George Patton’s Third Army. His valiant efforts earned him two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

Arlington Park’s Renaissance

Duchossois’ journey in the world of horse racing began when he and two partners acquired Arlington Park, located in the northwest suburb of Arlington Heights, in 1983. The track, previously owned by conglomerate Gulf + Western, needed a visionary leader to revive its fortunes. Duchossois swiftly bought out his partners to take full control and wasted no time in transforming Arlington Park into a world-class racing venue.

Holding himself to the highest standards, Duchossois meticulously rebuilt Arlington Park after an electrical fire devastated the facility in 1985. Despite skeptics claiming the track wouldn’t be ready in time, he worked tirelessly to ensure that Arlington Park could host the prestigious Arlington Million, the track’s signature race. Duchossois and his dedicated staff triumphed, and that year’s event became known as the “Miracle Million.” The track became a modern masterpiece, captivating the hearts of racing enthusiasts and families alike.

Under Duchossois’ stewardship, Arlington Park thrived and became renowned as a pioneer in the racing industry. Its cutting-edge design drew the attention of the Queen of England’s sport racing commission, who visited to study the facility’s blueprint while designing her own racecourse. Duchossois’ commitment to excellence revolutionized racing in the United States.

A Philanthropic Legacy

Richard Duchossois not only left his mark on the racing world but also on the community through his philanthropic endeavors. In memory of his late wife Beverly, who passed away from cancer in 1980, he donated a generous sum of $21 million to the University of Chicago, specifically for the establishment of an outpatient medical center.

Duchossois’ impact reached beyond horse racing, underscoring his desire to make a difference in the lives of others. His generosity and commitment to various causes demonstrated his kind-hearted nature and a deep sense of social responsibility.


Richard Duchossois will forever be remembered as a decorated war hero, a visionary businessman, and a true legend in the world of horse racing. His tireless efforts and unwavering dedication transformed Arlington Park into a world-class racetrack, leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come. As we pay tribute to the extraordinary life of Richard Duchossois, let us celebrate the impact he made on the sport and the countless lives he touched along the way.


1. What were Richard Duchossois’ major achievements?

Richard Duchossois achieved remarkable success throughout his life. As a World War II veteran, he bravely served in five major European campaigns, earning two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. In the world of horse racing, he transformed Arlington Park into a premier racetrack and successfully revived it after a devastating fire. Duchossois’ philanthropic endeavors, including a significant donation to the University of Chicago, showcased his commitment to making a positive impact on society.

2. How did Richard Duchossois impact the horse racing industry?

Richard Duchossois revolutionized the horse racing industry with his visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to excellence. He transformed Arlington Park into a state-of-the-art racetrack, attracting widespread attention for its modern facilities. Duchossois’ influence extended beyond Arlington Park, as he played a key role in organizing and promoting prestigious races such as the Arlington Million. His dedication and innovative mindset ushered in a new era of racing in the United States.

3. What was the significance of the Arlington Million?

The Arlington Million holds great significance in the world of horse racing. Co-founded by Richard Duchossois, this race was the first to offer a million-dollar purse, capturing the attention of both racing enthusiasts and participants. The Arlington Million became a prestigious event in the racing calendar, attracting top horses, jockeys, and trainers from around the world. Duchossois’ commitment to elevating the sport’s profile through initiatives like the Arlington Million left an enduring legacy in horse racing history.

4. How did Richard Duchossois contribute to his community?

Richard Duchossois believed in giving back to society and making a positive impact in his community. Following the passing of his first wife due to cancer, he donated a substantial sum of $21 million to the University of Chicago for the establishment of an outpatient medical center. This philanthropic act aimed to enhance healthcare access and improve the lives of those seeking treatment. Duchossois’ commitment to philanthropy showcased his compassion and dedication to improving the well-being of others.

5. How will Richard Duchossois be remembered?

Richard Duchossois will be remembered as an extraordinary individual who excelled in various aspects of life. His heroism as a World War II veteran, his visionary leadership in the racing world, and his philanthropic contributions have left an everlasting impact. Duchossois’ legacy will live on through Arlington Park’s continued success and the countless lives he touched through his philanthropy. His determination, passion, and commitment to excellence serve as an inspiration to future generations.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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