william b. weaver
Bill Weaver was born in 1936 in New York City and grew up in Connecticut. His father was a commercial banker for J. P. Morgan. Weaver saw his first harness race before the age of 18 at Yonkers Raceway with his friends. He attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he studied liberal arts, majoring in philosophy. He enlisted in the Navy where he served for five years, rising to the rank of lieutenant. In 1962 Weaver was employed as a teller with First National City Bank (Citibank) in New York. He was a regular visitor to Roosevelt and Yonkers, where he did not bet, but enjoyed the racing.
Weaver first became directly involved with horses in 1965. With Harold “Sonny” Dancer, he purchased yearling The Prophet 3,1:59.3 ($140,899), who would finish second in the 1969 Hambletonian behind Lindy’s Pride. In 1972 Weaver moved from Connecticut to New Jersey. Unhappy in banking, he retired and became an investment adviser. Weaver became close friends with Hall of Fame Immortal Vernon Dancer, who was his trainer from the 1970s through the 1990s. From 1965 through 2000, the year Vernon Dancer died, Weaver never had a trainer for one of his horses that was not from the Dancer family.
Weaver was an owner for nearly 20 years before he began breeding in the early 1980s. Established with his mother, Weaver registered his Valley High Stable in Freehold, New Jersey in 1987. A two-year-old colt trotter he bred named Valley Victory 3,1:55.3 ($485,307) won the Breeders Crown and his divisional title in 1988. Although retired from racing as a three-year-old after a Yonkers Trot win, Valley Victory would have a profound effect on trotting pedigrees in the breeding shed. Over a span of 19 years, Valley Victory sired the winners of over $35 million.
The 1994 Hambletonian featured six contenders from Valley Victory’s first crop, with Victory Dream 3,1:53.2 ($1,016,537) the winner. Valley Victory’s daughter, 1996 Horse of the Year Continentalvictory 3,1:52.1 ($1,611,170) won America’s Trotting Classic in 1996 in straight heats. Valley Victory’s third Hambletonian winner in five crops was 1998’s Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year Muscles Yankee 3,1:52.2 ($1,424,938). Valley Victory’s offspring won four Hambletonian Oaks: Lookout Victory 7,1:54.3s ($1,921,611) in 1995, Must Be Victory 3,1:53.2 ($454,741) in 1997, Marita’s Victory 3,1:54 ($666,731) in 2000 and Southwind Allaire 3,1:53.4 ($733,534) in 2003. Add to that list six Breeders Crown winners: Lookout Victory in 1994 and 1995, Continentalvictory in 1995, My Dolly 4,1:54.3 ($576,059) in 1997, and Muscles Yankee and Musical Victory 3,1:55 ($502,384) in 1998.
Valley Victory sons Victory Dream and 1996 Peter Haughton Memorial winner Yankee Glide 3,1:55.1 ($506,904) respectively sired 1999 Hambletonian winner and Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year Self Possessed 3,1:51.3 ($1,346,390) and 2006 Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner Glidemaster 3,1:51.1 ($1,968,023). Muscles Yankee sired three consecutive Hambletonian winners in Deweycheatumnhowe 3,1:50.4 ($3,155,178), Muscle Hill 3,1:50.1 ($3,273,342) and Muscle Massive 3,1:51 ($1,239,138).
Weaver’s stable also bred the following champions: 2006 Two-Year-Old and 2007 Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada, Pampered Princess 3,1:53 ($1,648,362); 2005 Breeders Crown winner and Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year Chocolatier 3,1:53 ($1,324,800); O’Brien 2008 Two-Year-Old and 2009 Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year Elusive Desire 4,1:52.1 ($1,275,827); 2006 O’Brien Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year Laddie 3,1:54s ($982,607); 2012 Breeders Crown winner and Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year To Dream On 3,1:52.1 ($975,395); 2012 Breeders Crown winner and Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada Wheeling N Dealin 2,1:55s ($841,656); 2000 Champlain Stakes winner Fun And Strokes 3,1:55 ($735,556); 2003 Yonkers Trot winner Sugar Trader 3,1:53.4 ($730,898); O’Brien 2005 Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year Was It A Dream 2,1:57s ($713,441) and 1998 Breeders Crown winner Juliet’s Fate p,3,1:50.1 ($682,094).
With respect to broodmares, Weaver’s business plan has been simple: select on the basis of conformation, breeding and on-track record, own only mares that have the ability to produce foals that will sell for $50,000, and have a yearling crop not to exceed 12. The plan seems to have worked. Weaver’s first purchase was Valley Victoria, dam of Valley Victory, Wall Street Banker 3,1:57.4 ($322,471) and Valley Boss Bi 3,1:56.3 ($163,122). Valley Victory’s daughter Maple Frosting produced Chocolatier and Sugar Trader. Valley Amber, also by Valley Victory, produced Elusive Desire and Too Salty 6,1:54f ($331,061).
Victory Dreamer 2,2:07h ($12,187), another Valley Victory mare, was the dam of Laddie. Weaver purchased Bold Dreamer, who produced Pampered Princess, Was It A Dream and Satin Pillows 2,1:59 ($92,933). Weaver-bred Quick Credit 2,1:56 ($530,193) produced Wheeling N Dealin; Satin Pillows was the dam of To Dream On.
Bill Weaver was inducted into harness racing’s Living Hall of Fame in 2014. He valued his integrity far more than any trophies or riches his horses could bring him. He lived in Colts Neck, New Jersey with his wife Judy, and had three children and nine grandchildren.
Bill Weaver passed away at the age of 79 on February 10, 2016.