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Bergstein/Proximity Award Finalists

Published: November 7, 2014 1:38 pm ET

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The United States Harness Writers Association has announced the finalists for the 2014 Stan Bergstein-Proximity Award.

Russell Williams, vice-president of the famous nursery Hanover Shoe Farms and a director on the boards of many of harness racing’s top organizations, and Charles Keller III, who carried on the tradition of his father’s famous Yankeeland Farm and also continues to serve the sport on many of its top organizations’ boards, have been announced as the finalists.

After the various chapters of USHWA submitted nominations for the award – which is the highest honour USHWA bestows based on voting only by its members and given for outstanding achievement in/service to the sport – the nominees were sent to the association’s directors, who voted to winnow down the candidates to the top two. Williams and Keller will now be voted on by the entirety of USHWA during the annual Dan Patch Awards balloting honouring the year’s stars, both equine and human (that balloting will be conducted in early December).

Williams, the grandson of Hanover’s founder Lawrence Sheppard, plays a major part in the operation of the world’s leading Standardbred-producing farm, where he keeps his own small but select band of broodmares (he is the breeder of the million-dollar-winning top three-year-old colt, Nuncio). He is also vice chairman of the U.S. Trotting Association, the sport’s supervisory organization in the US, and a trustee of the American Horse Council and the Harness Racing Museum. Williams is also a noted equine philanthropist, financing the possibility of many Standardbreds being able to live out their lives with dignity, including retired Hanover broodmares.

Keller, the son of noted Yankees baseball player ‘King Kong’ Keller, took over operation of Yankeeland Farms, which his father established, in 1990 until the farm’s closing in 2006. The farm bred two Hambletonian winners, Muscles Yankee (1998) and Yankee Paco (2000), and it also bred Yankee Blondie, the dam of 2009 winner Muscle Hill, along with countless other divisional champions. It has produced the outstanding sires Yankee Glide and Yankee Cruiser, and has been the cradle of four Breeders Crown winners. Keller is the chairman of the executive committee of the Hambletonian Society, a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum, and a former director of the U. S. Trotting Association.

The Bergstein/Proximity winner, along with the awards for the best of 2014, will be given at USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards dinner on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld; more details, including on accommodations, will be forthcoming soon.

(USHWA)


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