Michael Blowen, right, and journalist Bill Mooney. Bill had donated his Eclipse Award to Old Friends. (Photo by Rick Capone)
From Michael Blowen:
On Saturday, January 28, we lost a dear friend. Bill Mooney was an award-winning turf writer, a historian, and, as many of you will remember, Old Friends’ official eulogist, helping us honor our deceased horses each May.
He passed away at his home in Lexington after a devastating two-year battle with cancer. He was 69.
Bill’s caregivers from Hospice of the Bluegrass were kind enough to call me at 3:48 a.m. on Saturday to let me know that Bill had died. I only mention it because it was 3:48 and not 3:47 or 3:46. To Bill, as professional journalist, accuracy was his god. In his world, there is no such thing as an alternative fact. And facts meant more to Bill than anything else.
Like so many other fortunate people, Bill considered me a friend. Even so, when he was writing his Eclipse Award-winning story on the death of the great champion Precisionist, he called to correct me on some of the misinformation I provided him. Again, accuracy above all else.
At Old Friends, Bill was our official eulogist every Memorial Day. His evocation of each individual Thoroughbred was concise, unique and, well, memorable. We are naming a street at the farm Mooney’s Place, which will intersect with our other road, Byars’ Way.
During his final weeks Bill was well cared for by his hospice caretakers and by Mark and Mary Simon, in particular. Mary made certain that Bill’s soup was just the right temperature and Mark kept him informed about the latest news in racing. All of Bill’s friends are well-advised to read the wonderful tributes to Bill at both The Paulick Report and Blood-horse. Just to make certain that there were no errors in his obituary, Bill wrote it himself.
This year, Mary Simon, at Bill’s request, will deliver the Old Friends eulogies. That was his request. I’m certain Mary will do a great job because Bill’s spirit will be looking over her shoulder and, should she slip up, make all the necessary corrections.
Personally, I will miss Bill a lot. But, more importantly, the athletes and everyone else connected to racing will miss his irreplaceable voice for all that is good in the sport he loved.
As always, thanks for all of your continued support. Come visit the horses when you can. We look forward to seeing you.