Pompano Beach, FL...December 10, 2014...Robert J. (Bob) Williams, Sr., 78, one of the most respected horsemen in harness racing, passed away on Tuesday, December 9. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on January 14, 1936, Bob Williams is, perhaps, best known for driving Diamond Exchange to victory in the second edition of the World Trotting Derby in DuQuoin, Illinois in 1982 He he also was the author of the very first 1:55 trotting mile at The Meadowlands with that same trotter the following season. But the career of Bob Williams began several decades before that. In 1942, at the age of six, he trained his first horse for his father, John Williams, and "soaking up knowledge about horses like a sponge" from his father and brother, Jack, he made his first appearance as a driver shortly after graduating high school in 1954. He got the first of his 2,015 driving wins in 1957 at Jackson Raceway with Czar Volo and gained attention on a national stage when he drove the chestnut Poplar Sonny to a 2:00 win at Santa Anita in 1961. His career got a big boost in the late 1950's when owner Peter Katona entrusted his entire stable to the 23 year-old Williams and he took full advantage of the opportunity by becoming a leading driver-trainer, first, in Michigan and, then, Illinois and California. Competing in an era when the 2:00 mile was "sacred," by 1970, Williams was high up on the list of leading drivers of 2:00 performers--a list that included greats like Joe O'Brien, Frank Ervin, John Simpson, Sr., Stanley Dancer, Del Miller, Billy Haughton, Curly Smart, George Sholty and Ralph Baldwin. Highly sought as a catch-driver, Williams was successful in that regard with the great trotter Earl Laird and drove the outstanding pacer Best Of All during much of that campaigner's four year-old season. Several years ago, when asked about his favorite horses, he said, "Oh, my, there are so many of them...Rockette Forbes, Andy Anderson, Poplar Sonny, Jazz Admiral, Knox Patch, Torjon, Lenawee Creed, Scotty's Colt, Easy Prom, Glad Rags, Sir Faffee, Philip Brian, Windy Way...they are all my favorites." After retiring as a trainer-driver in the late 1980's, Williams became a Paddock Judge at Muskegon Raceway before becoming an Associate Judge at Toledo Raceway followed by a similar position at Pompano Park. He was elected to the Florida USHWA Hall of Fame in 1999 with a similar honor in Michigan Harness Horseman's Hall of Fame in 2004. Bob Williams is survived by his wife of 47 years, Charlene, a son, Robert Williams, Jr., daughters Keya (Ken Morgan) and Krista (Don Harmon), a brother, Jack (Sally), a sister, Barbara (Mike Babka), six grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a grandson, R. J. III. A memorial service is planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, remembrances in the form of contributions to the Standardbred Retirement Fund and the Harness Horse Youth Foundation would be appreciated. by John Berry, for the Isle Pompano Park
February 18 - Jody Jamieson, a two-time winner of the Pepsi North America Cup - Canada's richest harness race, will be the guest on Woodbine Racing Live's pre-game show this Saturday, February 22, beginning at 6:45 p.m. The 37-year-old is also a three-time O'Brien Award winner as Canada's top driver. Jamieson has banked over $103 million in career earnings along with 6,770 victories. He also captured the World Driving Championship in 2001 in Finland and Sweden along with a 2011 victory in the U.S. The veteran reinsman will join WEG's Greg Gangle and offer his thoughts on the entire program and much more. First race post time is slated for 7:25 p.m. by Greg Gangle for WEG
Don't be surprised to see champion New Zealand pacer Auckland Reactor back racing in the United States next year. That's the opinion of one of North America's most prominent harness racing owners and 'Reactor' shareholder, Jerry Silva.
A proposal to end the funding of harness racing at the Du Quoin State Fair will mean no racing at the historic oval in 2010. The cut is part of the proposed Illinois budget as the state seeks to eliminate a $13 billion deficit in the general revenue fund.
Star horseman Luke McCarthy is back in town. The freakishly talented reinsman touched down early yesterday morning (Wednesday) at the Brisbane International Airport after completing his six month working holiday in North America alongside his younger brother and another harness racing star, Andrew.
Muscle Hill will bring a 14 race win streak to Saturday's $575,000 World Trotting Derby at the Illinois State Fair in Du Quoin as he looks to become the third consecutive Hambletonian winner, and fourth in five years, to capture the event.
Deweycheatumnhowe ran his win streak to 17 races with a three quarter length victory in the $565,000 World Trotting Derby for 3-year-old trotting colts on Saturday afternoon at the DuQuoin (Illinois) State Fair. His time for the mile was 1:50.4, the fastest mile trotted by any Standardbred in 2008.
Lantern Kronos, with her trainer Jimmy Takter driving, was the two and a quarter length winner of the $166,000 World Trotting Derby for three year-old fillies on Friday afternoon at the DuQuoin (Illinois) State Fair in a time of 1:53, a new career mark.
Celebrity Secret, with just four wins in 18 career starts, has been quietly trotting a path to riches, with $758,926 in earnings. He's been second or third 11 times, most of them in major races. He was second to Crazed in the Colonial Trot on August 17, second to Deweycheatumnhowe in the Dancer Memorial on July 11 and fourth to the latter in the Hambletonian.
The first 1,000 fans to arrive in the grandstand for Saturday's World Trotting Derby will get a complimentary 4" x 6" color photo of Deweycheatumnhowe - Harness Racing's Triathlete, The photo depicts Dewey's win in the Hambletonian and also shows him being ridden by trainer Ray Schnittker and swimming on Schnittker's farm.