ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — The longtime owner of Arlington Park Race Track, Dick Duchossois, has died at the age of 100.
While he was best known for his race track, he was also a World War II veteran, philanthropist and businessman who was born in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood.
Duchossois was a member of the “greatest generation” – and like so many of his era, it was war that shaped his life.
He was only 20 years old at military school when he got the call.
Duchossois would go on to lead a unit that was told they would be part of the first wave at Normandy.
“We were lined-up for what we thought was D-Day when we found we weren’t in on the initial invasion, our guys were disturbed. Our guys wanted to be there at first crack,” Duchossois said in a 2019 interview.
Lieutenant Duchossois led his troops onto Utah Beach days after the initial attack. At one point he was shot and feared dead.
He recovered and went back to the front, leading his company through the Battle of Bulge at other assaults.
“I had a job to do. I did the best I could. My men were well training. I brought most of them home. A lot didn’t get killed. Training, discipline, pride, it saved a lot of people,” Duchossois said.
After the war, Duchossois worked for a rail car manufacturing company and began to build his business empire. Arlington Park Race Track became its crown jewel.
He would need the resilience he learned in the war, when tragedy fell on the track in 1985 as the horse racing heaven was reduced to rubble.
It was Dick Duchossois who made the decision to rebuild the track, bigger and better. After selling to Churchill Downs, the property may now be sold again and re-imagined as the new home of the Chicago Bears.
Throughout Duchossois’ life, giving back was a goal his children and grandchildren continue to practice to this day.
“You learn discipline. You learn: You don’t always win but 2nd place isn’t good enough so go back and try again,” Duchossois said.