Joseph F. Joyce Jr., founder of the world's first million-dollar race for Thoroughbreds, the Arlington Million, died Monday, Nov. 27, at the age 77. As President and CEO of Arlington Park, Joyce conceived and implemented the Arlington Million, the premier international Thoroughbred turf race and the world's first million-dollar purse. The inaugural Arlington Million was run in 1981 and telecast to 27 countries. In 1985 Joyce and his Arlington Park partners received a special Eclipse award for the running of the "Miracle Million" just three weeks after a tragic fire destroyed the Arlington Park grandstand. Joyce was a long-time executive in the horse racing industry, starting as legal counsel and COO for New York Off Track Betting in 1971, chairman of Arlington Park, Washington Park and Roosevelt Raceway in 1974, CEO and President of Arlington Park from 1976 to 1982, and owner of Wyoming Downs 1990 to 1998. He was also on the advisory board of the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona since its inception in 1973.
Two of Joyce's children are involved in thoroughbred horse racing today. Eugene, 47, is president and general manager of Turf Paradise Race Course in Phoenix, Arizona, and Michael, 30, is an on-air analyst with TVG network.
Joyce was educated at Regis High School in New York. He earned a B.A. from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He attended Fordham Law School and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1956. He honorably served his country in Korea in the United States Marine Corp and received the Purple Heart.