Trainer Brian Williamson began making Churchill Downs his “second home” about four years ago. Now, the Chicagoland-native is finding his best stride in the September Meet with two victories and a narrow runner-up finish with his small string of 10 horses based in Barn 16.
“Knock on wood, I have a lot of horses that fit here this meet,” Williamson said. “A lot of the horses we have here in Kentucky are ready to run on dirt. We just have to keep the momentum rolling and hope for a big meet at Keeneland and continue back at Churchill for the Fall.”
The Williamson operation is focused on one word: family. Williamson is married to the late trainer Harvey Vanier's daughter, Lyda, who co-owns many of Williamson's horses along with his mother-in-law Nancy Vanier. Williamson's sons, Brian and Sam, play a major role in his barn on a daily basis.
Williamson began working in the late 1980s with Vanier in Chicago. As Vanier's health began to decline in the early 2000s, Williamson took over his string of horses.
Since 2004, Williamson has amassed 706 wins from 5,300 starts. Arguably, one of the most accomplished horses under Williamson's care was multiple graded stakes-winning mare Streamline. The Illinois-bred was a picture of consistency on the racetrack with 10 wins, four seconds and nine thirds through 29 starts. The mare now lives at Vanier's farm in Versailles, Ky. and is in foal to former Champion 2-Year-Old Male Classic Empire.
Williamson has two horses entered on Sunday's closing day program: Flower House (Race 1) and Super Wonder Girl (Race 7).
“I hate to see this meet end so quickly,” Williamson said. “It's been very good to us and we still have a couple more chances this weekend.”
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