Kentucky Horseman William O'Neill Dies

William O’Neill, owner of Circle O Farm near Paris, Ky., and before that manager of Millard Waldheim’s Bwanazon Farm in Central Kentucky, died Dec. 2 at his home. He was 85.

O’Neill succeeded his father, Irish horseman Patrick O’Neill, as manager of Bwamazon and was in charge of the farm from 1950-80. Under the management of the younger O’Neill, Bwamazon was represented as breeder and/or owner by dozens of stakes winners, including major performers Crème dela Crème, T.V. Commercial, and Quack, who stood for a time at Circle O.

Bwamazon 2-year-olds proved popular at the Keeneland spring meeting, and a bet on them often was a winning one. On numerous occasions, Bwamazon was the track’s leading owner by juvenile winners. 

O’Neill, who started Circle O in 1980 with his wife, Arlene, served racing in a number of ways. He was a director of the Thoroughbred Club of America and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, as well as a vice president of the Thoroughbred Breeders of Kentucky. He was named the 2000 Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club Manager of the Year.

O’Neill’s knowledge often was sought. The Blood-Horse invited O’Neill and other prominent racing people for a round table discussion in 2000. The discussion, “Reflections: Fifty Years of Thoroughbred Memories,” proved informative and popular.

O’Neill served in the Navy during World II. In addition to his wife, O’Neill is survived by daughters Judy and Kathy; a son, Bill Jr.; and several grandchildren and great-granddchildren.

The Lusk-McFarland Funeral Home in Paris is handling the arrangements. Visitation is Monday, Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST at Annunciation Catholic Church in Paris. The funeral is at 11 a.m.

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