Tuesday, September 25, 2012

William Woodward, Sr., Owner of Belair Dies at Home in New York City

Belair Mansion, September, 2012
September 25, 1953 (59 years ago today): William Woodward, Sr., owner of the Belair Mansion and Belair Stud Farm, died at his home in New York City at the age of 77.  He bequeathed the Belair property to his only son, William Woodward, Jr. (Billy), with the hope that the "farm may mean as much to my son as it has to my uncle and myself, and that he may spend many happy days there maintaining the place in a modest  and simple way as has been our habit."  Little did the elder Woodward know that his son would die only two years later, setting the stage for the purchase and development of Belair by Levitt & Sons.

William Woodward inherited Belair from his uncle, James T. Woodward, in 1910.

Prior to his uncle's death, Woodward became involved in horse breeding when he purchased three mares from the estate of Governor Oden Bowie and a stallion.  He later purchased horses from France during World War I.  With the help of trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Woodward's Belair Stud was responsible for two Triple Crown winners (father and son pair Gallant Fox and Omaha) as well as other winners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and other major horse races.

The following two books were used as sources for this post.  Both books are available at the Belair Mansion and the Belair Stable Museum.

  • Belair Stud, The Cradle of Maryland Horse Racing, Kimberly Gatto, 2012
  • Belair from the Beginning, Shirley V. Baltz, 2005

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