ALBANY, CA – The Bay Area horse racing community is mourning the loss of popular longtime trainer and former jockey William “Bill” Delia, who passed away on Thursday due to complications of COVID-19. Delia was 75 years old.
Delia, born on December 5, 1946, began his apprenticeship as a jockey in 1966. After a race-riding career in which he piloted 304 horses to the wire first, Delia switched to training winners. Starting in 1985 and completing a career that spanned over four decades, Delia won 975 races from 7,952 starters, with his runners amassing purse earnings of $16,735,424.
A recent accolade for Delia came when, after a stellar year for his barn in 2019, the Bay Area native was honored with the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CTBA) Trainer of the Year award.
“It’s a real honor to win an award like this,” said Delia. “I am very appreciative of all the support from my owners and help back at the barn.”
Delia’s last winner came at Golden Gate Fields on December 10, 2021 with the Thoroughbred gelding Hands Off. His final two starters raced this past Friday, January 21.
“As you can imagine, our racing family here at Golden Gate is deeply saddened,” said Golden Gate Fields General Manager David Duggan. “He was one guy you looked forward to seeing every morning. He was a hard worker that loved horses and racing. He had fantastic stories to share and a great sense of humor. With the news of Bill’s passing comes a dark shadow that has been cast on our backstretch this morning.”
Jockey William Antongeorgi III, who guided some of Delia’s best stock in recent years, took to social media to express his condolences Thursday evening. “Not only was he great to ride for…but he was also just a great guy to be around,” said Antongeorgi. “[Delia was] always laughing and having a good time. This one hurts. I’ll miss you.”
Golden Gate Fields Press Release
Photo: Bill Delia/Vassar Photgraphy