William & Suzanne Warren
Year Inducted: 2011
The W.K. Warren name – and family is a genuine Oklahoma success story.
William K. Warren, Sr. was a pioneer Oklahoma oilman who founded Warren Petroleum Company in 1922. He built his company into an international corporation and served as Director and Member of the Executive Committee of Gulf Oil Corporation.
In 1945, the William K. Warren Foundation was established in Tulsa, Okla., by Mr. Warren and his wife, Natalie. Saint Francis Hospital opened in Tulsa in 1960, funded entirely by the foundation. It has grown into one of the state’s largest hospital complexes.
The Warren’s son, W.K. “Bill” Warren Jr., and his wife Suzanne, have traced the elder Warren’s footsteps but have included hoof beats as an addition to the family’s passion and success. Warren followed his father in overseeing the family’s oil and natural gas company, the Warren Foundation and the St. Francis hospitals. He included thoroughbred racehorse ownership as another avenue for success.
Bill Warren first became interested in horse racing upon a visit to Del Mar with his father. He purchased his first racehorse in 1983.
The Warrens got their first taste of the Kentucky Derby in 1995 when Knockadoon finished seventh after a win in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds in New Orleans and a second in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
The Warrens made another run for the roses in 2008 when Denis Of Cork rallied from last to finish third behind Big Brown and the filly Eight Belles. Denis Of Cork would improve his finishing position in his next classic attempt, running second in the Belmont Stakes.
Without question, the two brightest stars to shine for the Warrens were 2005 Horse of the Year, the remarkable Saint Liam, and City of Light, an older horse who beat the best horses in the country in 2018-19, scoring the rich $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in 2019.
As for Saint Liam, the name Liam is Gaelic for the name William. The yearling colt by Saint Ballado was purchased at the 2001 Saratoga sale for $130,000 and named Saint Liam as a tribute to his father William.
The Warrens knew they had something special with Saint Liam early in 2004. After running third in the Oaklawn Handicap in April, he was caught in the final jump by Ghostzapper in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes in September. Ghostzapper would go on to become the eventual 2004 Horse of the Year.
Saint Liam’s 2005 Horse of the Year season started with a wire-to-wire win in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. He then won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. He fell a neck short of winning the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga but then countered with an authoritative win in the Woodward. Victory in the Grade 1, $4,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont Park solidified him as a Champion at the end of the year.