Richard L. "Dick" Duchossois, who brought Arlington Park back from the ashes, and then saw the track become a part of Churchill Downs Inc., has been selected to receive an Eclipse Award of Merit. The 2003 Eclipse Awards will be held January 26, 2004 at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Fla.
In 1995, Arlington Park was award a Special Eclipse Award for running the Arlington Million just 25 days after the track's grandstand and clubhouse burned to the ground on July 31, 1985. That award, for being able to run what was dubbed the "Miracle Million," recognized the track's entire staff.
This is the second Eclipse Award for Duchossois, who was presented a Special Eclipse Award in 1989 when the track reopened that year after being rebuilt in grand style. In 2002, the track was showcased to the world when it hosted the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Duchossois, 83, is a native of Chicago and the founder of Duchossois Industries, which is owned by him and his four children. Based in Elmhurst, Ill, the company manufactures capital goods, consumer products, and national defense supplies.
"It is with great pleasure that we are honoring Dick Duchossois with the Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding contributions and exemplary leadership to the sport of Thoroughbred racing and the Thoroughbred industry," said D.G. Van Clief, Jr., president of Breeders' Cup Limited and a member of the Eclipse Award Steering Committee. "'The 'Miracle Million,' the magnificent reconstruction of Arlington Park, and the hosting of the 2002 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are but a few of the major career accomplishments of this most worthy recipient."
The winner of the Eclipse Award of Merit is determined by a committee composed of representatives from the Eclipse Award-presenting organizations: the NTRA, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association.
An owner and breeder, Duchossois raises horses and stands stallions at his 700-acre Hill 'n' Dale Farm near Barrington, Ill.
Duchossois received The Jockey Club's Gold Medal in 1986 and was elected to membership in the organization the following year. In 1988, he received a Special Sovereign Award from The Jockey Club of Canada, and he was presented the Lord Derby Award from the Horserace Writers and Reporters Association of Great Britain.
He has been chairman of Arlington since 1983, when he headed a group that purchased the track in northwest Chicago from Madison Square Garden Corp. Arlington was merged into the Churchill family of tracks in 2000.
Duchossois attended Washington and Lee University for two years before being called to active military service. He served in five European campaigns and was a decorated major when he left active duty. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by Washington and Lee in 1991.