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Williams To Receive Proximity Award

Published: December 23, 2014 12:50 pm ET

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It has been announced that Russell Williams has been named the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award winner by the United States Harness Writers Association, the media association of the industry south of the border.

The Stan Bergstein Proximity Award is the highest award given by USHWA that is voted on solely by its membership of 220.

Williams is an important part of many of harness racing’s major entities – Hanover Shoe Farms Inc., the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, the U.S. Trotting Association, the Harness Racing Museum – and also serves as ‘Santa Claus’ to horses after their racing/breeding careers are completed.

Williams is the grandson of Hall of Famer Lawrence Sheppard, founder of Hanover Shoe Farms, the world’s largest Standardbred nursery. But while always enjoying the horses, Russell carved his own path in life as a lawyer, serving as assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Virginia and teaching law at the University of Richmond. Later, he returned to Hanover as a senior official, and to this day his contributions to Hanover and the sport are numerous and progressive.

He serves the dual roles in the ‘Hanover family’ as vice president of Hanover Shoe Farms, leading breeder within the industry since records started to be kept in 1949, and as chairman and vice president of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, which each year conducts a weeklong sale of quality horseflesh in Harrisburg, just more than an hour from the Hanover Farm near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border.

Williams is also vice chairman of the U.S. Trotting Association, the sport’s breed registry in the U.S., statistical record-keeper, and overall input into national/international issues – his background as a lawyer is especially valuable in this role. He is a trustee of the Harness Racing Museum, and the former chairman of the American Horse Council, a multi-breed organization.

Russell also campaigns a modest stable of horses and owns several broodmares, including Nicole Isabelle, a second-generation Williams mare whose first foal was the trotting star Nuncio, an Andover Hall colt who won the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity en route to earnings of $1.45 million in 2014.

But the main equine beneficiaries of Williams’ ‘ownership’ are those horses whose careers as racehorses are finished, and elder broodmares retired from the breeding ranks. The latter group of Hanover mares are boarded at Hanover for life; the racehorses are literally given ‘the gift of life’ by ‘Santa Claus’ Williams, as he purchases them and helps find them suitable homes.

Russell Williams, still agile and youthful of mind approaching 60, has spread his earned talents throughout the Standardbred world, to the benefit of every level, and thus is a worthy recipient of the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award.

This award, along with the Dan Patch Horse of the Year and additional human award trophies will be presented on Sunday, February 22, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Tickets for the gala event, the Dan Patch Awards Banquet--Night of Champions, are now available.

Tickets for the Dan Patch Awards Banquet can be reserved via telephone or email by contacting Steve Wolf at 954-654-3757 or by email at [email protected].

Substantial savings on hotel rooms can be attained for this event, which is being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld. A special rate of $115 can be reserved by calling 407-352-1100 BEFORE January 25, 2015, and mentioning code: Dan Patch or clicking this link.

The deadline for the Dan Patch Awards journal is Monday, January 26. To advertise in the souvenir journal, please contact Chris Tully by calling 845-807-7538 or email [email protected].

All of this information and applicable advertising forms can be accessed at ushwa.org.

(With files from USHWA)


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