Willis Horton, Owner Of Champions Will Take Charge, Take Charge Brandi, Dies At 82 - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Willis Horton, Owner Of Champions Will Take Charge, Take Charge Brandi, Dies At 82

Luis Saez and Willis Horton celebrate after Will Take Charge’s win in the Travers

Willis D. Horton, who campaigned champions Will Take Charge and Take Charge Brandi, died Friday of pneumonia in a Fayetteville, Arkansas hospital. He was 82.

A resident of Marshall, Arkansas, Horton was a retired homebuilder who reached the pinnacle of racing with his two champions and also had great success racing horses with his family.

He helped develop D.R. Horton Custom Homes, which became the nation's largest builder of single-family homes. Upon his retirement when the company went public in 1992, he began an ardent pursuit of horse racing.

He previously was the managing partner of Horton Stable, which included his brother Leon, his late son Cam, and his nephew Terry. Among their best horses was 2006 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lemons Forever.

“He lived and breathed horse racing,” Horton's son Kevin told Daily Racing Form. “He had no hobbies. He didn't hunt, fish. …His love has always been horse racing.”

Will Take Charge won the Rebel Stakes (G2), Travers Stakes (G1), Pennsylvania Derby (G2), and Clark Handicap (G1) en route to his 2013 Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male. Horton bought Will Take Charge at auction, paying $425,000 for the son of Unbridled's Song at the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He earned more than $3.9 in his racing career.

Take Charge Brandi won the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Delta Downs Princess Stakes (G3), and Starlet Stakes (G1) en route to the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly. Horton paid $435,000 for the Giant's Causeway filly at the 2013 Keeneland September sale. She compiled a 5-1-0 record from 11 career starts and earnings $1,692,126.

Horton wore many hats during his life: as a former parts store owner, feed mill owner, turkey farmer (at one time raising more than four million turkeys), and as the owner of a 7,000-acre cattle farm. He also served five terms as Searcy County (Arkansas) Judge, from 1964-1974.

Horton is survived by his wife of 64 years, Glenda, his son Kevin and his wife, Laurie.

Funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. (CT) Tuesday at the Roller-Coffman Funeral Home at 923 Hwy 65 North in Marshall, Arkansas. Visitation is set or 12-2 p.m. (CT).

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