United States Trotting Association president Russell Williams is uniquely qualified to apply knowledge, insight and legal perspective to the ever-evolving challenges facing the harness racing industry.
Despite a strong yearling market where most auctions enjoyed record sales, and with pari-mutuel wagering booming, the sport still faces several daunting and controversial issues: the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), jurisdictional inconsistencies, microchipping vs. freeze branding, trainer indictments, and horse and personnel shortages. Williams, an accomplished legal professional and grandson of Hanover Shoe Farms founder Lawrence Sheppard, is well-placed and well-suited to lead the industry and navigate the national and political challenges that lie ahead.
The 2014 Stan Bergstein Proximity Award honouree, Williams is well-versed in a variety of Standardbred topics, and the former law professor applies a no-nonsense approach and common sense solutions to complex issues. In his position as president of the USTA, Williams’ legal and political expertise is perfectly suited for working with the polarizing content currently found in HISA.
A staunch advocate for the horse industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the president and CEO of Hanover Shoe Farms oversees the largest and most successful Standardbred horse nursery of all time. Passionate about the sport and its origins, Williams has written extensively about the history and deep roots of the industry in the Keystone State.
Anyone who purchased a horse at the recent Harrisburg sale was likely to have crossed paths with Williams in the sales office working with Standardbred Horse Sales Company’s new president Dale Welk, approving cheques and vetting purchasers while overseeing the company’s 83rd annual auction, which grossed a near-record $69.5 million.
Optimistic about the future, Williams said, “Times are good at the moment. To make it last, we need best equine practices, active compliance with quality regulation and new sources of handle. Unprecedented cooperation in the sport will lead to unprecedented gains for us all.”
When the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association holds their 62nd annual Awards Banquet on Sunday, Dec. 12, Russell Williams will receive the chapter’s highest honour, their Lifetime Achievement Award.
This year, in addition to the year-end awards for horses and horsepeople from the local tracks, the Monticello-Goshen chapter will also honour Joe Faraldo (John Manzi Leadership Award); Bob Miecuna (Excelsior Award); John McDermott (John Gilmour Good Guy Award); Eric Taddeo (Cradle of the Trotter Breeders Award); Eddie Glick (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award); John Hernan (Phil Pines Award); Marianna Monaco (Amateur Driver); McGwire Sowers (Rising Star); and Susanne McManus & Mike Rivera (Mighty M Awards of Appreciation).
Tickets for the gala event at the Wallkill Golf Club, Middletown, New York, can be reserved by contacting Shawn Wiles at 845-794-4100 ext. 458 or [email protected].
(Monticello-Goshen Chapter of USHWA)