Day At The Track

Kelly Smith - Caretaker of Year

06:58 AM 19 Jan 2021 NZDT
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Kelly Smith with Spider Blue Chip
Kelly Smith with Spider Blue Chip
Breeders Crown photo

Kelly Smith, who has worked for Hall of Fame harness racing trainer Chuck Sylvester for more than three decades, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Art Zubrod and Leah Cheverie's Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Smith was announced the winner during the USHWA Dan Patch Virtual Awards Show on Saturday, Jan. 16.

"I was very surprised and honored," said Smith. "The competition was fierce, that's for sure. There are some of the others nominated who are very good friends of mine. Everybody nominated was well deserving; clearly somebody thought we were special.

"I am very appreciative of this. Chuck has meant everything to me."

Smith was nominated by Sylvester himself.

"Kelly often knows more of what's going on with me than anyone else," Sylvester wrote in his nomination letter. "She is there every day starting at 5 a.m., feeding all the horses, turning them out for a few hours, waiting for vets or blacksmiths and staying with the horses, holding them during their appointments.

"Kelly is honest, reliable, trustworthy and absolutely passionate about the horses! She is extremely smart and could do anything, but she chooses the horses.

"This last year Kelly even went above and beyond her usual excellence and complete loyalty. When I was unable to go north this year, as I needed to stay home with my wife Sharon, Kelly went ... and was my eyes and ears. She is my unsung hero."

All caretakers in North America were eligible for the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee. A seven-member panel -- all USHWAns who were former caretakers themselves -- selected Smith as the winner.

As winner of the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award, Smith will receive a cash prize of $1,000 and a trophy etched with a likeness of her and a favorite horse, Breeders Crown champion Spider Blue Chip.

Including Smith, 16 names were submitted for the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year. All nominees will receive an honorary certificate commemorating their nomination. Here are all the nominees, with the stable for which they work noted in parentheses:

Erin Bonno (George Ducharme)

Margaret Gillon (Ron Burke)

Bethany Graffam (Graffam Stable)

Shelly Greico (Linda Toscano)

Michelle Hallett (John Hallett)

Kim Hines (Jason Robinson)

Diane Lewis (Joe Holloway)

Trish Nappi (Cory Deyermand)

Lisa Palmiter (Chris Lakata)

Katie Remmerswaal (Nancy Takter)

Kelly Smith (Chuck Sylvester)

Sierra Smith (Gerry Sarama)

Anki Wernis (Jim Campbell)

Dave Wisher (Joe MacDonald)

Vicki Wright (Noel Daley)

Cheyenne Yoder (James Yoder)

From U.S. Harness Writers Association


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