Year Inducted: 2012
A beloved trainer for decades, Lewis Wartchow was known as the ‘King of Paints’ for his years of success with the breed. Wartchow excelled with all breeds, including American Quarter Horses, Appaloosas and even Thoroughbreds throughout his career which started in 1967. Over the next 36 years in the sport of horse racing, Wartchow had a positive and lasting influence on those with whom he associated.
Born in El Reno, Oklahoma in 1938, William Lewis Wartchow followed his father into the horse training business. After graduating Union City High School, serving in the United States Army and attending school at both Central State University (now University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond and Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Wartchow started his own training operation.
Originally working with Appaloosas, Wartchow eventually expanded his business to include other racing breeds. A career in racing when Wartchow began meant a lifestyle away from his home state. Oklahoma would not legalize pari-mutuel horse racing until the early 1980s. Aside from non-pari-mutuel activity at tracks such as Midway Downs in Stroud and Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Wartchow had extensive travels with his runners in order to compete.
Visiting many states, and time zones, Wartchow saddled winners in New Mexico, California, Illinois, Florida and Colorado in his early career. Eventually, he was able to make Oklahoma racing the main focus of his operation which was based in Fitzhugh, Oklahoma, just outside of Ada.
Finally competing in pari-mutuel racing in his Oklahoma, Wartchow made an immediate impact wherever he started horses. Once Remington Park opened in 1988, the Wartchow prowess was never brighter. While never the leading trainer in any season in Oklahoma City, Wartchow was normally in the top five of the standings at meet’s end.
Wartchow was a main player in all stakes races at Remington Park, featuring either Paints or Appaloosas. He won these races with regularity and trained such recognized greats as Paint World Champions: Treasures, Treasured Too and Texas Hero.
Aside from the accumulation of stakes trophies, Wartchow enjoyed perhaps his greatest day as a trainer when he saddled six winners during the trials for the 1998 Oklahoma Paint Association Futurity, utilizing the talents of jockeys Roy Brooks, G.R. Carter and David Brown to accomplish the feat. Wartchow would win the final with Fabulous Angel, ridden by Jacky Martin.
Wartchow’s health began to wane in the new millennium. He passed in 2003, shortly after his 65th birthday, bringing a superb career to a close. Wartchow held the Remington Park record for stakes wins in the Quarter Horse & Mixed-breed Seasons with 33, the mark stood until eight years after his death.
The ‘King of Paints’ is still at the top of the all-time victory and earnings list in Paint racing into 2012. Wartchow’s Paint starters won 22% of their races for a total of 321 wins and overall earnings of $2,159,797.
Recognized for his accomplishments, Wartchow was one of the first trainers inducted into the Appaloosa Horse Club Hall of Fame in 1988. The Mister Lewie Memorial, a Grade 1 event for Paints & Appaloosas, is conducted yearly in his honor at Remington Park.
The kindness, friendship and knowledge Wartchow shared with others throughout the horse racing and breeding industries was so widespread that many horsemen to this day, have a connection that traces to him. Engraved on his tombstone is the statement… “He touched a lot of lives.”