richard s. staley
Richard Staley, a native of Decatur, Illinois, was born on September 20, 1930. His grandfather established the A. E. Staley Co., which is one of the world's leading soybean and corn processors. He also started the Decatur Staleys, a professional football team which became the Chicago Bears. Richard Staley was an owner and breeder of Standardbreds, participating in harness racing at the highest levels for more than twenty-five years. He became involved in the sport after attending a seminar at Hollywood Park in 1970. 1995 Immortal Preston Jenuine recommended Doug Ackerman as a trainer. This proved to be a successful, lasting relationship.
Richard Staley owned many outstanding Grand Circuit performers including Crowning Point 3,1:54 ($343,662), Armbro Cadet p,4,1:53.2 ($693,392.), Albaquel p,3,1:53.3 ($498,222), Denali p,4,1:55.1 ($485,795), Noble Hustle 3,1:58.1 ($399,620), Self Confident 2,1:57.3 ($371,416), Ever So Rich p,4,1:54.2f ($573,756) and his favorite, Bramble Hall p,10,1:58.4 ($215,809). Staley also maintained a select broodmare band. The year he passed away his 30 starters won 69 races and $669,803, ranking him 17th on the 1996 list of leading moneywinning owners. He was an enthusiastic patron of the Grand Circuit and attended many major yearling sales. Dick Staley provided support for harness racing in many other ways, never seeking credit for his actions. One instance was his help in funding harness meets at several California tracks, including one at the Del Mar track, close to his home in La Jolla and where his horses trained.
In the non-harness racing world Dick Staley's generosity was also abundant. In the early 1950s he moved to California. There he joined the Mercer Studios in Hollywood as a cameraman. He worked on "The Apartment," the winner of the Academy Award for best picture in 1960. Unfortunately, six years later the studio failed. Caught in the business' demise were three of Staley's friends. They were just three years shy of receiving pensions. He quietly purchased the business and kept it running just long enough for his friends to reach retirement age. He then sold the studio, at a sizable financial loss.
Richard Staley epitomized all that is good in human conduct. He preferred to be inconspicuous with his staunch efforts for the sport of harness racing. However, his quiet deeds and self-effacing personality will always be remembered and honored. Richard Staley died on February 19, 1997 in La Jolla, California. He was sixty-six years old.
Published in the Harness Racing Museum's 2002 Souvenir Journal and "The 2001 Immortals" (2002)