Residence: Marshall, Arkansas
Family: Wife Glenda; Sons Cam and Kevin
Willis Horton campaigns 2013 Champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge. With wins in the Smarty Jones, Rebel Stakes (G2), Travers (G1), Pennsylvania Derby (G2), and Clark Handicap (G1), it put the owner and his wife of 57 years on the journey of a lifetime. But, it was Willis’ acceptance speech at the Eclipse Awards that made everyone in the racing industry take note of what a special ambassador for the sport he truly is. Now four, Will Take Charge is possible for the Oaklawn Handicap April 12.
Horton and his family developed D.R. Horton Custom Homes into the nation’s largest builder of single-family dwellings. The family members retired when the company went public in 1992. Willis had horses growing up and had always wanted to own race horses. He entered the horseracing business after retiring from the construction business.
Willis’ son, Cam, was instrumental in Dallas Stewart, then-assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, going out on his own and Horton Stable (Willis as managing partner, son Cam, brother Leon and nephew Terry) was among his first clients. Willis returned his horses to Lukas primarily because the trainer is based at his home track of Oaklawn Park.
The stable’s first stakes winner, Partner’s Hero, won five stakes, including the Kentucky Cup Sprint (G2) in 1997. Another star was Lemons Forever, owned in partnership with Dallas Stable, who captured the 132nd Kentucky Oaks at 47-1. Other Oaklawn successes include Laurie’s Rocket, winner of the 2012 Bachelor Stakes and 2013 Hot Springs Stakes.