04/05/2009 12:00AM

O'Neill, horse owner and landowner, dies at 85


ARCADIA, Calif. - Richard J. O'Neill, a Thoroughbred owner and prominent Orange County, Calif., landowner, died early Saturday of natural causes, according to published reports.

O'Neill was 85. He was known to be suffering from Parkinson's disease in recent years, according to newspaper reports.

O'Neill owned such recent stakes winners as Highland Torree, who won the California Equine Retirement Foundation Stakes at Del Mar last August; Steelin, the winner of the Bangles and Beads Stakes at Fairplex Park last September; and Tizfiz, who won the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita in January.

O'Neill's stable was trained by Rafael DeLeon.

A veteran of World War II, O'Neill was the grandson of Richard O'Neill, the found of Rancho Mission Viejo in Orange County. Rancho Mission Viejo once encompassed more than 200,000 acres in what is now part of Camp Pendleton, and the cities of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita.

The O'Neill family retains a 23,000-acre ranch.