Daniels Named HTA Groom Of The Year

Published: April 4, 2013 03:22 pm EDT

Florzell 'Georgie Boy' Daniels of Harrington, Delaware, has been named 2012 Groom of the Year in the annual competition sponsored by Hanover Shoe Farms and Harness Tracks of America.

In nominating the 83-year-old Daniels, Michel Ridgely Jr., a Maryland Racing Commission employee, and Jackie MacLeod, a trainer and driver, noted that despite his age, Daniels “goes about his work as if he were 23 years old instead of 83.”

Daniels works on the mid-Atlantic circuit of racetracks that includes Harrington Raceway, Rosecroft Raceway, Ocean Downs, Dover Downs, and Harrah’s Philadelphia. Travel to one track or another is a way of life, and one to which Daniels is well-suited. “His horses enter the paddock clean and shining like a new car,” says Ridgley. “And [Daniels] himself is meticulous --- he is as neat as a pin --- everything from his hat to his boots resembles a man who takes pride in his appearance. The horses he cares for take on the same appearance; from mane to tail, his horses are groomed as finely as possible.

“It’s more than just appearance that stands out about Georgie's horses. It is their demeanour. They appear calm and ready for what is expected of them in the coming race. This calmness is something that comes from Georgie. He is always easy going, always with a smile on his face and only a kind word to speak. He is always ready to assist his fellow horsemen and horsewomen and is loved by many who have had the pleasure to work around him.”

Daniels, who served in the U.S. Air Force in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, has been grooming horses professionally since 1958. As a black man who grew up in the South in a time when race was a significant issue, Ridgley says that “Georgie has seen the world at its worst and at its best. But none of the worst soured him; he loves life, he loves people, he loves animals, most of all horses.”

And so at 83, Daniels continues to groom horses. His devotion to their care is unwavering. In closing their letter nominating Daniels, Ridgley writes, “I hope you will consider this man for Groom of the Year. He is not only the best groom I have ever witnessed, he is the essence of the goodness of harness racing.”

The Groom of the Year judges, all of whom have experience as grooms, obviously agreed. Yet they noted that while Daniels was singled out for recognition as the annual award winner, all those who were nominated exhibited tremendous dedication and devotion to caring for the sport’s four-legged participants.

In addition to a $500 cash award, Daniels will receive an original oil painting of himself with his favourite horse, Southern Nero.


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