One of the most prolific trainers in Canadian harness racing history, William 'Bill' Robinson of Caledonia, Ont. passed away on Friday (Dec. 11) at the age of 74.
Robinson didn't come from a horse racing background, getting involved with racing after going in on a $1,500 claiming horse with a bunch of friends with working at a local Firestone factory. He eventually quit working at the factory to become a trainer and enjoyed tremendous success.
After developing horses the likes of Dream Maker and Lime Time in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Robinson ranked among the Ontario Jockey Club circuit's top conditioners throughout the later part of that decade and continued that success into the 1990s. As a trainer, Bill Robinson's horses earned more than $54.8 million, captured 2,738 races in 8,998 starts. Fifteen horses he trained won over $1 million dollars each, with three colts winning more than $2 million in a single year.
Horses successfully campaigned under Robinson's tutelage included Hall of Fame inductees Mach Three ($2,376,700) and Precious Bunny ($2,281,142) along with O'Brien Award winners Riyadh ($2,763,527). Presidential Ball ($3,021,363), Art Major ($2,723,217), Cams Card Shark ($2,498,204), Dragon Again ($2,343,428) and 1997 Triple Crown winner Western Dreamer ($1,812,176) and recent millionaire Nickle Bag ($1,240,110).
Robinson-trained horses have won numerous divisional honours in Canada, with O'Brien Award winners the likes of Pacific Rocket, CHRHF inductee Ellamony, Stout, Paling Avenue and Armbro Keepsake.
Robinson was a four-time Winner of the O'Brien Award for Trainer of the Year in 1993, 1994, 2002, 2003, and two of his horses won the O'Brien Award for Horse of the Year: Precious Bunny in 1991 and Cams Card Shark in 1994. He was also the winner of the USHWA Award for Trainer of the Year in 1993.
Bill Robinson trainees Cams Card Shark, Dragon Again, Nickle Bag and Riyadh
Horses trained by Robinson captured the majority of harness racing's major stakes events, and on multiple occasions. Robinson-trained horses have won the North America Cup (4 times), Meadowlands Pace (3), Little Brown Jug (3), Jugette (1), Breeders Crown (3), Confederation Cup (3), Canadian Pacing Derby (4), US Pacing Championship (3), Adios (2), Art Rooney (3), Provincial Cup (3) Messenger (3), Windy City Pace (3), Nassagaweya (5) and Maple Leaf Trotting Classic (1).
Bill will be greatly missed by his partner of 29 years, Katrina, and their daughter, Jennifer, sons, Brett and Shawn and their mother, Caroline, grandchildren, Taylor, Blake and Jake, sister, Mary (the late Chuck Martin) and his nephew and nieces: Mark Martin (Maxine), Kim Kichinko (John) and Tracy Kichinko (Michael). Bill was pre-deceased by his sister, Margie (the late Ray Norton).
The family would like to thank Dr. Alan Gunning for his exceptional care and support of Bill, Dr. Katherine Phillips and the third-floor staff of West Haldimand General Hospital, and the many wonderful PSWs and nurses who helped care for him at home. Your attention to his care, and kindness to the family — during an exceptionally challenging year — was very much appreciated.
Cremation has taken place. Given the current pandemic, no visitation or service is planned at this time. A celebration of Bill’s life will take place next year. In the meantime, the family would appreciate friends sharing their stories and personal memories via email, at millerfuneralchapel.ca or here on the Standardbred Canada website. If so desired, donations to the following charities, in Bill’s memory, would be appreciated: West Haldimand General Hospital, the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society, the Parkinson Society.
Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the family of Bill Robinson.