12/03/2010 3:43PM

Bill O'Neill of Circle O Farm dies


William O’Neill, owner of Circle O Farm in Kentucky with his wife, Arlene, died Thursday at his home in Paris, Ky. O’Neill, a former Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Manager of the Year, was 85.

Before opening Circle O in 1980, O’Neill followed in his father Patrick’s footsteps as manager of Bwamazon Farm in Lexington, a major breeder and campaigner of stakes winners. In his 30 years with Bwamazon, the farm’s stakes-winners included Quack, T.V. Commercial, It’s Freezing, Raised Socially, and Creme de la Creme, among numerous others. Now defunct, Bwamazon remains Keeneland’s third-ranked owner by total wins.

O’Neill also had a hand in developing numerous horsemen and their enterprises throughout the years, particularly opening the door to young Irish horsemen in the Bluegrass. He also founded Nicoma Bloodstock in 1979 with Headley Bell and Alice Chandler. O’Neill served as a director of the Thoroughbred Club of America and was named the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club’s Manager of the Year in 2000.

O’Neill’s survivors include his wife. A visitation was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 6 at the Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Paris, with a funeral service to follow at 1 p.m. there.