Mike Corley, former State Steward for the Illinois Racing Board has died. Mr. Corley, who was 65, died Friday, August 10, 2012 at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado from complications of lung cancer which was diagnosed 16 months ago.
Mike, who recently retired from the Illinois Racing Board, was relocating from Beecher, Illinois to Laguna Hills, California.
Mike was born March 30, 1947 in Bedford, Indiana, to Phillip and Thelma Corley who preceded him in death. Mike is survived by his loving wife, Alice (married 44 years) and his devoted daughters Dawn (George) Brnilovich and their children Nichole (11) and Alex (3); and Rachel (Jeff) McConnell and their children Katie Rose (8) and twins Dana and Meagan (6).
Corley, who has served as State Steward at Maywood Park and Balmoral Park in Illinois since 2003 has dedicated the past 43 years to the sport of horse racing by serving in various official capacities in New Jersey, California, Ohio and Illinois as an accredited steward by the United States Trotting Association (USTA) and the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI).
Mr. Corley began his horse racing career as a groom for Jim Dennis and was eager to share his numerous exploits riding the train with horses from California to Illinois. His official career began at Balmoral Park as an Associate Judge in 1970 and continued to serve in many capacities at many racetracks in different states.
In 1994, Mike was named the Presiding Judge of the prestigious standardbred race meeting at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Later he served as steward in California at numerous racing meetings.
Mike was awarded the Purple Heart due to injuries he received while in Vietnam as an Army Sergeant in 1967.
He was a valuable and dedicated employee who was devoted to promoting the well-being and advancement of horse racing. He had various other interests, was an avid golfer and supporter of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) and owned and drove his own race car at sanctioned car racing meetings in California.
A memorial will be displayed at Balmoral Park in Illinois in recognition of Mike's service to racing. Donations towards the memorial may be made to the Horsemen's Bookkeeper, Balmoral Park, 26435 S. Dixie Highway, Crete, IL 60417.
Expressions of sympathy and memorial contributions to the family may be sent to 24892 Georgia Sue, Laguna Hills, California 92653. A celebration of his life will be held in a private ceremony on September 15 in Del Mar, California.
by Tom KELLEY