Warren "Spud" Williamson, who with his wife, Alyce, bred and raced such top runners as millionaire Nashoba's Key, multiple graded winner Nashoba's Gold, graded stakes winners Tiz Elemental and Texas Ryano , and multiple stakes winner Excessive Blend, died March 16. He was 89 and was recovering from a recent hip surgery.
A longtime California owner and breeder, Williamson has had horses with trainer Carla Gaines since 1989, first in Northern California and then when Gaines moved to Southern California.
"It was a toss up between John Harris and me as to who gave Carla her first horse," Williamson once said.
Gaines trained most of Williamson's horses and helped him buy fillies in Europe who produced many of his homebreds.
"His dedication to racing and his love for his horses is something we will all miss," Gaines said. "He loved, loved, loved breeding and nicking and picking stallions for his mares. He produced a lot of stakes winners from a limited number of broodmares."
In addition to his racehorse interests, Williamson gave his time to sit on several racing industry boards. He served as a director of the Oak Tree Racing Association and Hollywood Park, and at the time of his death, he was a trustee of the California Thoroughbred Foundation.
"What a mentor—I learned so much from him," said Jeanne Canty, CTF ex-officio president, who sat on the board with Williamson for many years. "He was always there if I had a question. What a neat man to work with—a great wit, as bright as could be. As a friend, what a loss he is. I can't say enough about what a good person he was."
Nashoba's Key was perhaps the Williamsons' finest runner. Gaines helped Williamson pick out Nashoba, a daughter of Caerleon, in Ireland, and Williamson bred her to Silver Hawk to get Nashoba's Key.
"It got down to how her bloodline would do with Silver Hawk, which is a Roberto line," Williamson said after one of Nashoba's Key's stakes victories. "From then on it was kind of a no-brainer."
Trained by Gaines the filly went undefeated in her first seven races, including the 2007 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (G2), Vanity Invitational Handicap (G1), Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (G2), and Yellow Ribbon Stakes (G1T).
Nashoba's Key was voted the 2007 California-bred Horse of the Year, as well as that year's Cal-bred champion older female and turf horse. She earned $1,252,090 and might have gone on to even more accolades if not for a freak stall accident in 2008. She injured her hock and could not be saved.
When Williamson bred Nashoba to Smart Strike, he got the filly Nashoba's Gold, winner of the 2014 Honeymoon Stakes (G2T) and Providencia Stakes (G3T). Also trained by Gaines, Nashoba's Gold earned $285,128.
Other homebreds included Tiz Elemental and Tiz a Blend, full sisters by Cee's Tizzy—Blending Element, by Great Commotion. In 2008, a half-hour apart at Santa Anita, they captured the Las Flores Handicap (G3) and Valentine Dancer Handicap. Blending Element also produced stakes winners Texas Ryano, Holladay Road, and Excessive Blend, all bred by Williamson Racing.
Runners raced by Williamson include Foxysox, an English-bred daughter of Foxhound—Triple Tricks, by Royal Academy. Trained by Gaines, Foxysox won the 2006 Providencia and Senorita Stakes (G3T), the 2008 Santa Barbara Handicap (G2T), and the 2009 Tuzla Handiap (G3T). Foxysox earned $715,118 and her foals include multiple stakes winner Curlin's Fox, bred and raced by Williamson and trained by Gaines.
Williamson was part of the Chandler family, which for many years owned the Los Angeles Times. His aunt, the late Dorothy Buffum Chandler, was a great patron of the arts. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, part of the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles and for many years the home of the Academy Awards, was named for her.