Long-time Hawthorne Race Course president Carey dies at 87

 
By Jim O’Donnell
Sports & Media columnist
Updated 12/18/2019 9:50 PM

Tom Carey, the long-time president of Hawthorne Race Course and a key figure in enabling Arlington Park to complete its 1985 live meeting after a catastrophic fire, has died.

Carey, 87, passed away after an extended illness at his family's complex in southeast Florida.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"He was the first person on our doorstep offering to help the day of the fire," Dick Duchossois, Arlington's chairman emeritus, said Tuesday.

"He offered us his track to complete our 1985 season and except for the day of 'The Miracle Million," we took him up on it."

Within two weeks of the July 31 fire, all other Arlington races -- including the 1985 Arlington-Washington Futurity -- had been moved to the west suburban oval.

More than 40 AP programs were run at Hawthorne before the conclusion of the pockmarked season on Sept. 30.

Besides his involvement with his family's historic Chicago racing business, Carey was also a notable presence on the Chicago prep football landscape.

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In 1950, Carey was the star QB on a Mount Carmel team that finished 11-0, beat Lane Tech 45-20 in The Prep Bowl and was later deemed by high school sports authority Taylor Bell as "the greatest high school football team in the history of the Chicago area."

Carey later played quarterback at Notre Dame under Frank Leahy and returned to coach Mount Carmel while attending Northwestern Law School at age 23 in 1956.

His final game as a coach was the 1960 Prep Bowl, when the Caravan -- with younger brother Tony Carey at QB -- beat coach Joe Kupcinet and a Taft team that included Jim Grabowski and Al McFarlane.

"That was it for me," Carey later said. "I had my law degree and I had to assist my father (Robert F. Carey, Sr.) in running the family businesses."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Said longtime friend Howie Fagan, who died in 2016: "If Tom had stayed in coaching, it would have come down to him and Ara Parseghian for the Notre Dame job in 1964. That's how highly regarded he was."

Added Duchossois: "He was a good man who was a gentleman to negotiate with and greatly understood the value of every nickel."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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