One of the biggest names in B.C. harness racing will be commemorated in a ceremony in early October, when the new racing season begins, Elements Casino in Cloverdale has announced.
Bill ‘The Dominator’ Davis, who has passed away at the age of 54, is being remembered as an outstanding driver and trainer.
“We want to take the opportunity to honour and show our respect for a man who has done so much for harness racing in British Columbia during his lifetime,” said Chuck Keeling, Great Canadian Gaming Corp. vice president and former general manager of Fraser Downs.
“He was a remarkable trainer and driver known for being one of the hardest workers in the game.”
The Langley resident earned the nickname, ‘The Dominator’, for his driving and racing records. He was a two-time O’Brien Award winner who had 5,477 wins during his driving career, and netted more than $22 million in purses.
As a trainer, he won 3,466 races, representing earnings of more than $16 million.
“We were all shocked to hear the news of his passing,” Elements Casino general manager Michael Kim said.
The details of the commemorative ceremony will be announced closer to the opening date of the upcoming live racing season commencing Oct. 6.
Harness racing – affectionately described as the Sport of the People – is a close-knit community, and generations of families take part.
“It is a very sad time for all right now,” said Carla Robin, executive director of Harness Racing B.C. She noted Ron Julien, an owner, breeder and longtime supporter of the harness racing industry, has also recently passed away from a long term illness.
Davis was a formidable presence on and off the racecourse, both as a driver and a trainer.
In 2014, he rebuilt his stable after losing horses in a devastating barn fire, according to Trot Insider. That same year, he earned an O’Brien Award for Horsemanship.
Davis mentored up and coming drivers, including his own son, Billy Davis Jr., who is enjoying a successful career in Ontario, and Casie Coleman, who also races in Ontario.
That’s where Davis Sr. started his career before coming west. He went on to become one of the most successful harness horsemen at the Cloverdale Raceway, later named Fraser Downs, and now part of Elements Casino.
The family planned to hold a private celebration of life with relatives and close friends.