by Frank Carulli
January 30, 2018
Charlie Williams, the stallion manager at Southwind Farms in New Jersey for nearly three decades, received a once-in-lifetime honor when he was named 2017 Caretaker of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers' Association.
Williams, 68, has come a long way since he replied to a part-time job advertisement at Southwind in the 1980s. He worked his way up to his current position, handling several of harness racing's top stallions -- Valley Victory, Artsplace and Muscle Hill, to name a few -- along the way.
"This is something I’ll never forget," Williams said. "From picking cotton as a young kid to go on and take care of world champions, it’s been a dream come true."
Williams will receive $500 cash and a trip to the Dan Patch Awards banquet February 25 in Orlando. He also received several glowing recommendations for the award.
"Please consider allowing this exceptional caretaker a moment to shine in an industry that sometimes forgets those of us who aren’t in winner’s circles but nevertheless are in a barn day in and day out, without vacation, wind, rain, and snow," one nomination letter said. "You will not find a more true definition of an exceptional caretaker in our industry than Charlie Williams."
Williams was a thoroughbred exercise rider in Florida early in his career before a knee injury forced him to give up riding and change career paths. Now there's no signs of him slowing down.
"I’m 68 years old and I can’t wait to get up in the morning and come to work," he said.
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