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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  

HARRINGTON, Del. - David Wisher, of Smyrna, Del., was named the Delaware Valley Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association's harness racing 'Caretaker of the Year' for 2020. Wisher is the inaugural recipient for the award. He has worked with Standardbreds since 1970, including a current longstanding career working for trainer Joe MacDonald since 1987. Wisher was nominated by Joe and his wife Linda MacDonald, who acknowledged his attention to detail and skillset in multiple facets of the trade, including breaking yearlings, jogging/training and personal attention to each horse. Wisher will receive a $200 award, courtesy of the Delaware Valley Chapter of USHWA. "We are delighted to be able to recognize someone like David Wisher for this award," said Delaware Valley Chapter President Matt Sparacino. "Caretakers are a vital part of racing and can be some of the most dedicated workers in the industry." The award was conceptualized by Delaware Valley USHWA members Mark Short and Judy Wilson and unanimously adopted by the chapter. All other award nominees will receive swag bags. Matt Sparacino

The deadline for nominations for the 2020 harness racing Caretaker of the Year, sponsored by Art Zubrod and Leah Cheverie's Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), is nearing on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. The Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport - the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible to be the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year. All that is needed to nominate is a letter or email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. "Leah and I were very honored to continue the tradition of recognizing the outstanding caretaker of the year last year and we look forward to again rewarding an exceptional individual this year," said Zubrod. "While the racing season may have been altered a bit with the covid-19 pandemic, caretakers continued to work as hard as ever. A caretaker's work is important to the success of not only the horse, but the entire stable." The Fair Island Farm 2020 Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500 and a trophy that will include a photo of the winning caretaker and a favorite horse. "In 2020, caretakers have had to endure and persevere in spite of the overwhelming obstacles associated with the pandemic," said USHWA President Kim Rinker. "These folks are the backbone of our industry and have seen to it that racing has continued to not only survive, but thrive, in these troubled times. This award is a shout-out to grooms across North America and beyond who dutifully care for their equine athletes." All nomination letters and emails must be received and/or postmarked by Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, and sent to committee chairman Tim Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, N.Y. 14001. With the deadline near, it is recommended to email all nomination letters at this point. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Bojarski, Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker, and Shawn Wiles. From USHWA

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020 Caretaker of the Year. The award, sponsored by Art Zubrod and Leah Cheverie's Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), recognizes the unsung harness racing heroes of the sport - the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. Initially titled Groom of the Year Award when first presented in 1982, the honor was instituted as a result of a suggestion made by Delvin Miller at the annual Harness Tracks of America meeting when he received HTA's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award. Previously sponsored annually by HTA and Hanover Shoe farms, the tradition lapsed in 2014 but was re-established in 2015 by Hard Rock Northfield Park and USHWA, with Fair Island Farm coming on last year. "Leah and I were very honored to continue the tradition of recognizing the outstanding caretaker of the year last year and we look forward to again rewarding an exceptional individual this year," said Zubrod. "While the racing season may have been altered a bit with the covid-19 pandemic, caretakers continued to work as hard as ever. A caretaker's work is important to the success of not only the horse, but the entire stable." The Fair Island Farm 2020 Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500 and a trophy that will include a photo of the winning caretaker and a favorite horse. "In 2020, caretakers have had to endure and persevere in spite of the overwhelming obstacles associated with the pandemic," said USHWA President Kim Rinker. "These folks are the backbone of our industry and have seen to it that racing has continued to not only survive, but thrive, in these troubled times. This award is a shout-out to grooms across North America and beyond who dutifully care for their equine athletes." Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible to be the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year. All that is needed to nominate is a letter or email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. All nomination letters and emails must be received and/or postmarked by Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, and sent to Chairman Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, N.Y. 14001. From the United States Harness Writers Association

With a deadline of this Friday, Dec. 20, there are only a few days left to submit nominations for the 2019 Caretaker of the Year. The award, sponsored by Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport-the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. With the deadline looming, nominations should be made by email (by Dec. 20) to Committee chairman Tim Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com. Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible to win the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award. All that is needed to nominate is an email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500, a trophy, and transportation costs to the USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday evening, Feb. 23, 2020, where he or she will be recognized. The winner will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities, as well as two complimentary dinner tickets. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. From the United States Harness Writers Association  

Sheila Napier, who works in the Chris Beaver Stable, has been named the recipient of the 2018 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HRRNP) in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA). Napier, 37, has worked for Beaver for three years, and in 2018 her horses included the $500,000-winning 3-year-old filly trotter Custom Cantab. She also had four horses that made the Ohio Sires Stakes championship card at Scioto Downs, including three in the 2-Year-Old Filly Trot. Prior to working for Beaver, Napier's 10-year stint with Ron Potter including being the caretaker of the 2011 Little Brown Jug winner Big Bad John. "I've always read about this award and this is really great," said Napier, a native of Cincinnati whose first job working with horses came while in high school in 1995 at the Delaware (Ohio) Equine Lab. "I've been doing this for a long time and something I looked forward to as far as possibly getting, but maybe in Ohio and not this big." All caretakers in North America were eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee. A seven-member panel - all of whom were former caretakers themselves - selected Napier as the winner. Beaver nominated Napier, and in his letter he noted, "Sheila takes unrivaled pride in the condition of her horses. I can rest at ease when she has a horse racing. I know it will get on the road on time and will be wearing all the right equipment, even if I can't make it. "Her horses are never shorted on the care that I expect for them and that is required," added the Ohio-based Beaver, who also winter trains at Spring Garden Ranch in Florida. "She can't stay away from her horses. She truly loves them and takes incredible pride in their accomplishments. My life would be a lot easier if more grooms brought the passion into their work that Sheila has." Napier said she usually has at least eight horses under her care in the Beaver barn, and it was Custom Cantab who was the star in 2018. Included among Custom Cantab's 13 wins were the Indiana Sires Stakes Super Final at Hoosier Park and the season-ending Matron at Dover Downs. "Oh, that filly," said Napier, whose travels always include her 11-year-old daughter Jess. "Custom Cantab is one of those special little fillies that wants to finish in the top three her whole life. She's quite sassy, amazing and full of heart. I absolutely love that filly; she is very special." As winner of the HRRNP Caretaker of the Year Award, Napier will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to USHWA's annual Dan Patch Awards banquet on Sunday, Feb. 24, at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, where she will be presented a trophy. Napier, along with all the USHWA 2018 award winners, will be recognized during the Dan Patch Awards banquet. Information on accommodations at Rosen Shingle Creek and dinner tickets can be found at www.usha.net. Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park/USHWA  

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Caretaker of the Year. The harness racing award, in its fourth year of sponsorship by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HRRNP) in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport-the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. Initially titled Groom of the Year Award when first presented in 1982, the honor was instituted as a result of a suggestion made by Delvin Miller at the annual Harness Tracks of America meeting when he received HTA's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award. Previously sponsored annually by HTA and Hanover Shoe farms, the tradition lapsed in 2014 but was re-established in 2015 by HRRNP and USHWA. The HRRNP Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500, a trophy, and transportation costs to the USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday evening, Feb. 24, 2019, where he or she will be recognized. The winner will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities, as well as two complimentary dinner tickets. "Caretakers are the day-to-day unsung heroes of the industry, long before and after the spotlight of the grandstand lights," said USHWA president Shawn Wiles. "This cadre toil in anonymity, not looking for a pat on the back, but always looking out for the best interests of their charges health and welfare. We are fortunate to have many outstanding caretakers in our industry to look after our equine athletes." Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible. All that is need to nominate is a letter or email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. All nomination letters and emails must be received and/or postmarked by Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, and sent to chairman Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, N.Y. 14001. (USHWA) From U.S. Harness Writers Association

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 Caretaker of the Year. The aharness racing ward, in its third year of sponsorship by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HRRNP) in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport - the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. Initially titled Groom of the Year Award when first presented in 1982, the honor was instituted as a result of a suggestion made by Delvin Miller at the annual Harness Tracks of America meeting when he received HTA's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award. Previously sponsored annually by HTA and Hanover Shoe Farms, the tradition lapsed in 2014 but was re-established in 2015 by HRRNP and USHWA. The HRRNP Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500, a trophy, and transportation costs to the USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday evening, Feb. 25, 2018, where he or she will be recognized. The winner will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities, as well as two complimentary dinner tickets. "It is so important that we recognize the people who are hands-on everyday with all our great horses because they are the ones the animals most closely relate to and are responsible for the care that keeps them sound and competitive week to week," said Tim Bojarski, president of USHWA. "I along with all the members of USHWA could not be more proud to co-sponsor this award and take the time to appreciate and thank not only the winner, but all the nominees as well." Any caretaker working for any stable in North America is eligible. All that is need to nominate is a letter or email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. All nomination letters and emails must be received and/or postmarked by Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, and sent to chairman Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, N.Y. 14001. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association  

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 Caretaker of the Year. The award, in its third year of sponsorship by Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park (HRRNP) in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), recognizes the unsung heroes of the harness racing sport - the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis. Initially titled Groom of the Year Award when first presented in 1982, the honor was instituted as a result of a suggestion made by Delvin Miller at the annual Harness Tracks of America meeting when he received HTA's Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award. Previously sponsored annually by HTA and Hanover Shoe Farms, the tradition lapsed in 2014 but was re-established in 2015 by HRRNP and USHWA. The HRRNP Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $500, a trophy, and transportation costs to the USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday evening, Feb. 25, 2018, where he or she will be recognized. The winner will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities, as well as two complimentary dinner tickets. "It is so important that we recognize the people who are hands-on everyday with all our great horses because they are the ones the animals most closely relate to and are responsible for the care that keeps them sound and competitive week to week," said Tim Bojarski, president of USHWA. "I along with all the members of USHWA could not be more proud to co-sponsor this award and take the time to appreciate and thank not only the winner, but all the nominees as well." Any caretaker working for any stable in North America is eligible. All that is need to nominate is a letter or email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker. The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington, Kim Rinker and Shawn Wiles. All nomination letters and emails must be received and/or postmarked by Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, and sent to chairman Bojarski at a159star@gmail.com or mailed to Tim Bojarski, 7523 Maple Road, Akron, N.Y. 14001. From the U.S. Harness Writers Association

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