Fia Svensson has been named Caretaker of the Year by Harness Tracks of America, the association of major harness tracks in North America, and Hanover Shoe Farms.
The winner, a dimunitive 22-year-old Swedish groom in the Florida-based Jonas Czernyson stable who delights in providing special care and attention to tough and difficult horses, was chosen by a committee of racing executives and officials who groomed horses themselves earlier in their careers, is symbolic of the dedication and sacrifices of all caretakers everywhere.
Ms. Svensson, who currently works with five horses in the Czernyson stable and helps other caretakers with their duties as well, earned recognition for her overall work ethic and selfless contributions to her horses.
They included last year’s winner of the $85,000 final of the New Jersey Sires Stake for 2-year-old trotters, thecolt Better Than Most.
Described along with other Svensson charges as “no walk in the park,” the colt could be a nasty kicker in the paddock on any second visit.
After Jeff Gregory drove him to victory, Ms. Svensson stopped Gregory on the backstretch and had him replace the colt’s earplugs, knowing otherwise the winner’s circle would be “a gruesome scene.”
Another pupil was a Danish colt named Number One D, with a sign hanging on his stall door reading, “Caution, I Bite.”
The colt delighted in grabbing arms of unwary visitors, and bit Ms. Svensson in the stomach while she was blanketing him.
She responded in her usual fashion, saying, “All he needs is love.” Ms. Svensson’s pride and joy last year was the 3-year-oldfilly Resortful, second in the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
After the filly fractured a cannon bone and was retired in Kentucky, Ms. Svensson spent a vigil with her at Millstream Farm before returning to New Jersey to groom Per Henriksen’s Breeders Crown winner Southwind Serena.
Ms. Svensson will receive an oil painting of herself and a favorite horse of her choosing, as well as one of the Hanover-HTA jackets that goes to all caretakers named as nominees.
The four runners-up in the Caretaker of the Year competition were Kelly Prinz, caretaker of; Mary Ceaser, groom in a small Masdsachusetts family stable; Mario Glynn, who groomed two million dollar winners -- Our Lucky Killean and Moving
ictures -- in Casie Coleman’s powerful Ontario stable; and Diana Fagnani, a groom for more than 20 years in the Jim Groff stable in Pennsylvania.
Harness Tracks of America & Hanover Shoe Farms