Bill Spawr, 83, announced his retirement and disbanded his stable after a 46-year career as a public trainer. According to the Santa Anita media team, Spawr was a star running back at Downey High School who got hooked on racing while working as a part time clerk in a local liquor store that served up Daily Racing Form and gravitated to the racetrack full-time at age 23. He spent 14 years as a veterinarian assistant before opening a public stable in 1977.
With 1,709 career wins, Spawr captured two Winter/Spring training titles at Santa Anita, in 1991 and 1996, two titles at the track’s Oak Tree Meeting, in 2000 and 2001, as well as a pair of summer titles at Del Mar, in 1990 and 1994.
Among his many successful claims was Sensational Star, who Spawr claimed for $32,000 on Aug. 7, 1988. Ridden primarily by Rafael Meza, Sensational Star would go on to win three stakes and bank more than $440,000. Exchange, a $50,000 claim in 1991, went on to win the GI Santa Ana and Santa Barbara H. in 1993, as well as the GI Matriarch S. in 1994 and earned more than $1.2 million.
The highlight of Spawr’s career came with Amazombie, with whom Spawr and co-owner Tom Sanford won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“Right now, I’m going to take a deep breath,” Spawr said of immediate plans. “I’m gonna be very active. I own small pieces of a couple of horses…I’ll be out there in the morning. I need something to do, I’ve had a couple of my owners ask me to keep an eye out for horses to claim, so I’ll keep my leg markings going…I don’t want any money for it, I just want something to do.”
Asked how he would like to be remembered, Spawr said, “As a good horseman. As a guy that really cared about the horses, first.”