04/13/2008 11:00PM

Guilliams, chart-caller, dies


Cliff Guilliams, former Daily Racing Form employee and the main chart-caller on the Kentucky racing circuit for more than two decades, died Saturday night in his sleep. He was 52.

Guilliams had married for the first time in March and leaves his wife, Susan, and his mother, Ruth, among his survivors.

He was found by police in his hotel room after failing to show for work Sunday at Keeneland. The cause of death was a brain seizure, according to close friends. Guilliams maintained his primary residence in Evansville, Ind., but he frequently stayed overnight alone in Louisville when he was working the Keeneland and Churchill Downs meets.

After calling charts and writing for the Racing Form from the mid-1980s through 1998, Guilliams switched to Equibase when that organization became the industry's main data collector. He had worked on every Kentucky Derby chart for the last 25 years.

In addition, he became the racing writer for the Evansville Courier and Press. Guilliams also made daily picks for Keeneland and Churchill in recent years for the Louisville Courier-Journal. He was a tireless promoter of his hometown track, Ellis Park, serving as the track's unofficial publicist and historian.

In 2001, a compilation of his articles was published, entitled "Final Calls to Absent Friends."

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who befriended Guilliams years ago, said. "Not many people loved the game of horse racing as much as Cliff - especially around Kentucky Derby time."

Guilliams also had close friendships with Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, the retired Daily Racing Form executive columnist Joe Hirsch, the late Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens, and the late turf historian Jim Bolus. Two Zito-trained horses - the 2004 Blue Grass Stakes winner, The Cliff's Edge, and Little Cliff - were named for Guilliams. Hirsch said Guilliams ranked among the all-time greats as a chart-caller, noting the diligence and precision he used in his work.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Browning Funeral Home in Evansville. Visitation tentatively was scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, with a memorial service Thursday.