George Williams has won four national Sovereign Awards for writing about horse racing in Canada. He started out in horse racing locally as a teenager with trainer Don Gray and later worked for Hall of Fame trainers Woody Stephens and “Giant Killer” H. Allen Jerkens in New York and Charlie Whittingham in California.
As a trainer he won the Assiniboia Downs Gold Cup with previously outdistanced $5,000 maiden claimer Buck Domino and turned a number of down-on-their-luck horses into confident winners before moving on to chart over 10,000 races for the Daily Racing Form. He also spent a year working as a consultant to the Chairman of the New York State Racing Commission, looking at horses for the Queen’s Plate and Kentucky Derby.
George wrote for the Daily Racing Form for over 10 years and later locally for the Winnipeg Sun and Winnipeg Free Press, where he was the leading public handicapper for three years. His work has also appeared internationally in the Canadian Thoroughbred, Thoroughbred Times, The Blood Horse and in Europe. He was the first reporter ever to walk over from the backstretch to the races with the horses (Sky Beauty and Devil His Due) at the Breeders’ Cup in 1994 and covered the mighty Cigar for the Thoroughbred Times when that horse won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup.
“It was always about the horses,” says George. “You spend 15 years working seven days a week with horses as their groom and main companion and you learn how special these animals really are.”
George currently makes his full time living as an Internet Marketing/Social Media Consultant, specializing in generating traffic to Web sites and ranking companies highly on Google through Search Engine Optimization, PPC and Social Media Marketing. He also ghostwrites about horse racing on the Web and says he reads the late Hunter S. Thompson’s famous story “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” at least once every spring as a primer to the season.
Rob has been paying his way through the University of Manitoba playing the races. The sharp-minded youngster grew up in St James and spent many a summer day and night at Assiniboia Downs. An athletic sort, Rob attended St. Paul’s High School, where he played football. He also played Triple A baseball for the St James A’s and now enjoys playing golf when he’s not attending classes at the U of M’s Asper School of Business.
Rob’s favorite wager is the Pick-4. “It provides good value,” says Rob. “And there’s occasionally a chance to scoop the whole pool.”
Rob says he learned how to handicap mainly from his Dad and from his experiences around Assiniboia Downs, but he’s also been to Woodbine, Mohawk, North Dakota Horse Park and Santa Anita. His favorite horse racing memories are of watching Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner and $821,693 earner Crown of Thorns break his maiden at Santa Anita, and getting an autograph from Scott Stevens after that jockey won the Manitoba Derby on Lord Kipling.
Primarily a trip and pace handicapper, Rob has an exceptional understanding of the modern world of horse racing and of what it takes to succeed in this tough game. He’s hoping to build on the profits he built up playing the Pick-4 last year and expand on his participation in other pari-mutuel pools. And he’ll have the added bonus of this year’s reduced Pick-4 takeout of 15% this year, which makes the local Pick-4 one of the best bets in racing.
Bob is a semi-retired long-time horse racing fan who loves doing research. He became fascinated with the sport of horse racing at an early age while watching the Triple Crown races on television.
In the early 1960s Bob would visit Assiniboia Downs with his parents and he has fond memories of watching the races, collecting discarded pari-mutuel tickets and programs, and “running my own races” on the lawn in front of the paddock.
“It’s strange how the mind works,” he says. “At times I have trouble remembering events from last week, yet I have no trouble whatsoever remembering horses like Spanish Key, Count Meridian, Precambrian, Post Cebos, Phantom Flower, Wake Island and Cosmic Tip. Jockeys like Armstrong, Stewart and Barroby were rock stars and names like Watt, the Howell brothers, Greenwood and Downs’ patriarch A. E. “Bert” Blake come to mind when thinking about prominent trainers from the past.
Bob started doing research on a book about horse racing about five years ago and still hopes to make that dream a reality, but he has since branched out and turned into a collector of racing photos, programs and whatever racing memorabilia he can get his hands on. He really enjoys meeting people from the racing industry past and present, and says that talking about racing has been rewarding beyond words. He has the Downs in his blood and counts himself as lucky to have the opportunity to work as the Track Historian.
“I’m thrilled and proud,” says Bob, “To be the horse racing Ambassador to the past.”