Bill Currin, who bred, owned, and trained 2006 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) winner Stormello, died Feb. 11 in Solana Beach, Calif., after a long illness. He was 77. His wife of 58 years, Betty, was at his side, as she has been since they became childhood sweethearts in North Carolina.
The Currins have raced several major stakes winners. Bill trained their homebred Memorette, a graded stakes-winning earner of $896,753. As Bill liked to tell the story, the only reason the mare raced in Betty's name was because Bill didn't have time to get to a jewelry store one Christmas.
Memorette's second dam, Fondre, won five stakes for Currin and W.R. Hawn. She became a foundation mare for the Currins' breeding operation. Memorette is by Memo out of Fondre's daughter Forever Fondre.
The Currins moved to California when Bill wanted to be an actor. He followed Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz west when they formed an acting school. During those days, Bill lived in the Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood, becoming friends with other actors who lived there such as Eli Wallach, Dennis Hopper, and Buddy Hackett. Decades later, Bill still enjoyed lunching at the Chateau Marmont.
Bill ultimately became a successful housing contractor, and upon the success of that business the couple became interested in owning racehorses. At one time, Bill also sat on the board of the Tanforan Racing Association.
After his trainer quit one summer at Del Mar, Currin ended up training his own horses.
"Here I'm in Del Mar with a young family and the horses and houses," Currin once said, "and I thought, 'What am I going to do?' So I walked into the office of the stewards, and I took the trainer's test."
Currin owned Stormello in partnership with Al Eisman, with whom he campaigned several horses including Outta Here, winner of the inaugural Delta Jackpot Stakes in 2002. The Currins bought Stormello's dam, the Carson City mare Wilshewed, as a 2-year-old, and they got Stormello after Betty selected Stormy Atlantic as the sire.
In addition to the Hollywood Futurity, Stormello won the 2006 Norfolk Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) and earned $700,100. The Currins sold a half brother to Stormello by Bernardini for $1,550,000 at the 2012 Keeneland yearling sale.
Several years ago, Currin retired from training due to health concerns, and Julio Canani now trains the couple's horses. The Currins bred and race My Best Brother, a full brother to Stormello who won the 2012 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) and Oceanside Stakes and is entered in a Feb. 14 allowance/optional claiming race at Santa Anita Park. Their current stable also includes multiple stakes winner Rosengold.
In addition to his wife, Currin is survived by their son, Patrick, and daughter, Jamie.