When Éclair de Lune, a four-year-old German bred filly, came from behind to win the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park race track outside Chicago this past Saturday, there weren’t any dry eyes in the winner’s circle where the horse’s owner, Richard L. Duchossois, of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1944, accepted the trophy to a standing ovation from more than 30,000 fans.
Why all the emotion?
The Beverly D. Stakes is named in honor of Dick’s late wife, Beverly, who died in 1980 of cancer. Éclair de Lune, a horse Dick purchased last year, was the fourth horse that he had entered in the Beverly D., but the first to make it to the winner’s circle.
“When we won, I didn’t know what to think,” said Dick, who is the chairman of Arlington Park. “Then someone hit me on the back and said we won.” He added that the victory “means more to me than winning the Kentucky Derby.”
Media reports about the special moment all emphasized how everyone in the park was rooting for “Mr. D.” to get the win, noting that he has become a legend in the racing world. Fans at Arlington Park clearly appreciate how he rebuilt the racetrack after a fire destroyed the grandstand in 1985.
Of the fan support, he told the Chicago Daily Herald: “I was very surprised and it makes you feel wonderful. Whenever I’ve run a horse, I have had tremendous support from the fans. We built this place for the fans and this was their horse.”
And W&L sports fans can relate to that. In addition to the Duchossois Tennis Center, gifts from Mr. D. have been key to the outdoor athletic facilities, which are now named in recognition of his support.