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John (Jack) Williams Jr. Passes

Published: June 22, 2021 11:37 am ET

Last Comment: June 23, 2021 11:09 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Longtime harness racing industry participant John (Jack) Williams Jr. of Seal Beach, Ca. passed away on Saturday, June 19 at the age of 91.

Born on Jan. 19, 1930 in Grand Rapids, Mich., Mr. Williams started in the Standardbred industry in 1947, grooming horses for his father, famed Michigan horsemen John (Jack) Williams Sr. He graduated from Comstock High School in 1948 where he lettered in baseball and football, and joined the family stable during school vacations then served in the US Army from 1951–1953 at Fort Warden, Washington.

Mr. Williams drove his first race in 1949 and got his first win in 1950 at Wolverine Raceway. Before opening his own public stable, he furthered the fine background he received from his father, by serving several seasons as second trainer for Joe O’Brien. In 1952, he married Sally Ann Lashua of Port Townsend, Washington.

In 1963, he won the very first “Battle of Brandywine” with Adoras Dream. One of his first major drives was in 1958 in what became known as the American Pacing Classic when he was only 28 years young. He notched his 1,000th driving win in 1973.

He had three world class trotters: Pershing; South Bend and McArthur who all went on to compete overseas. Other top horses that he has driven include Diamond Hal, Czar Volo, Easy Prom, Adoras Dream, Thor Hanover, Steady Star, Baby Tears, Thor Hanover and Battling Beau. In 1971, subbing for Gene Riegle, Mr. Williams set a world record of 1:58.2 with the three-year-old gelding pacer Big Kahuna. Efforts like this made him a sought-after catch-driver.

Mr. Williams not only drove on the California circuit but also attended tracks back in the Midwest and East such as Sportsmans Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hazel Park, Brandywine, The Meadows, The Meadowlands and was entered as a threatening challenger in The Little Brown Jug and a local name on the Grand Circuit.

After retiring as a trainer-driver, Mr. Williams became a well-respected Steward in the State of California for the Standardbred, Thoroughbred and Quarter horse racing industries.

Mr. Williams was preceded in death by his son Ken Williams and is survived by his wife of 69 years, Sally; a son, John Robert Williams, daughters Sally Ann Mestas (Terry Mestas) and Linda Sherren; a sister, Barbara (Mike Babka), and four grandchildren, Frank Sherren Jr., Matt Sherren, Jesse Mestas and Jenny Mestas.

Condolences can be sent to 16222 Monterey Lane #368 – Huntington Beach, CA 92649.

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the family and friends of JAck Williams Jr.

(with files from USTA)

June 23, 2021 - 11:09 amMy Condolences to the

My Condolences to the William's Family. RIP Jack


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