BALTIMORE, MD 05-15-09---The Maryland racing community lost one of its more prominent members last night when retired jockey and racing steward Bill Passmore passed away. He was 76.
Passmore won 3,531 career races for earnings of nearly $23 million during his riding career that began when he was a teenager in 1948 and ended in 1986. The Pennsylvania native rode in three Preakness Stakes-Galdar (1954), Knight Landing (1980) and Thirty Eight Paces (1981). He rode for top trainers King Leatherbury, Charlie Peoples and Bernie Bond. Some of his more prominent mounts included Twixt, Jameela, Christopher R, Cure the Blues and Port Conway Lane.
“He was a great friend of mine and quite a character,” said Leatherbury, who ranks third on the all-time win list. “He was a super rider, very underrated. He was my kind of jock, a sit still and heady rider. Billy could get a horse to relax and could get run out of horses.”
Upon his retirement he immediately launched into a second career as a steward for the Maryland Racing Commission, helping oversee racing at Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park and Timonium until retiring in December 2007 where he was deeply respected for his cool temperament and keen understanding of the business.
“Billy was one of my best friends,” said Mike Hopkins, Executive Director of the Maryland Racing Commission. “He was kind to everybody and would offer his time to young riders, teaching them what a rider should and shouldn’t do. But he was also quite the prankster playing good natured tricks on people. He will certainly be missed.”
Passmore is survived by his wife Charlene and seven children.