04/13/2007 11:00PM

Gus Williams, of Sackatoga Stable, dead

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Augustine "Gus" Williams, one of the partners in Sackatoga Stable, which campaigned 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, died Thursday at Albany Medical Center after complications from a stroke. He was 81.

According to Jack Knowlton, the managing partner of Sackatoga, Williams suffered a stroke three weeks ago. He underwent brain surgery on Sunday "and he never really came out of it," Knowlton said.

"He had a hell of a run, an unbelievable run," Knowlton added. "We went to New Orleans for the Louisiana Derby with a couple of our other friends five weeks ago. And we were in Florida two weeks before that. He kept it going right up to the end."

Williams was born in Watertown, N.Y., and he served in the Air Force during World War II. Williams and his brother Frank started Williams Brothers Builders Inc., a construction company that built homes in the Albany area until the late 1970s.

Williams became known for his colorful outfits and fun-loving personality during Funny Cide's 2003 Triple Crown campaign.

"Gus was the life of every party," Knowlton said. "Every party he ever walked into he took over the room in a good way. I traveled with him coast to coast and he'd go into a room and by the time he walked out he had a bunch of new friends."

Williams is survived by three children, three grandchildren, one sister, and several nieces and nephews. A wake was planned for Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Applebee Funeral Home, 403 Kenwood Ave., Delmar, N.Y. 12054. A funeral service will take place on Monday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 35 Adams Pl., Delmar.

Knowlton said a celebration of Williams's life will be held at Pennells, a restaurant on Jefferson St. in Saratoga, on Wednesday night.

In lieu of flowers, those who wish may send a remembrance in Williams's name to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, PO Box 3387, Saratoga Springs, NY, 12866.