Longtime racing exec dies

Dec 19, 2006 5:49 AM

Joseph F. Joyce, Jr., a longtime leader in the thoroughbred industry and one of the early advocates of race simulcasting, died Nov. 27 at his Palm Springs, Cal., home. He was 77.

For a number of years, Joyce represented Madison Square Garden in the operation of Arlington Park in Chicago, Ill. He was responsible in 1981 for the industry’s first million dollar race, the Arlington Million, which was won by Bill Shoemaker aboard the great John Henry.

In 1983, he joined with Dick Duchossois and others in purchasing Arlington Park, a commitment that ended in tragedy just two years later when the track was destroyed by fire. It subsequently was taken private by Duchossois who rebuilt the property as Arlington International.

Joyce, a Marine Corps veteran who received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat during the Korean Conflict, joined the New York Off-Track Betting operation in 1971 as chief operating officer and legal counsel. Two years later, he was named vice president and general manager of the American Totalizator Co. (Amtote), a post he left to join the Madison Square Garden organization.

While a racing executive, Joyce was instrumental in the development of the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona and served on its advisory board from its inception in 1973.

In 1990, Joyce shed his three-piece suit in favor of cowboy boots and a Stetson hat as the proud owner of Wyoming Downs, a post he held until his retirement in 1998.

Joyce and his wife, Elizabeth, had a dozen children, all but one of whom received graduate or post-graduate degrees.

Two of his sons are active in the racing industry. Eugene Joyce is president and general manager of Turf Paradise and Michael is a member of the on-air talent team for the TVG network.