USHWA Accepting Caretaker Nominations

Published: November 30, 2021 10:56 am EST

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2021 Caretaker of the Year Award, presented by the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA).

The award, sponsored by Art Zubrod and Leah Cheverie’s Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the United States Harness Writers Association, recognizes the unsung heroes of the sport — the caretakers who maintain the health and welfare of the horses on a daily basis.

The Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year will receive a cash prize of $1,000 as well as transportation costs to the USHWA Dan Patch Awards banquet in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday night, Feb. 20, 2022, where he or she will be recognized and presented with a trophy. The winner will also enjoy a two-night stay at Rosen Shingle Creek, host hotel for the USHWA activities, as well as two complimentary dinner tickets. All nominated caretakers will receive a certificate recognizing their accomplishments.

“Leah and I are honoured to continue the tradition of recognizing caretakers and the hard work they do on a daily basis,” said Zubrod. “And it is especially gratifying to honour one most-deserving person as the Caretaker of the Year.”

Initially titled Groom of the Year Award when first presented in 1982, the honour was instituted as a result of a suggestion made by Delvin Miller at the annual Harness Tracks of America meeting when he received HTA’s Stanley F. Bergstein Messenger Award. Previously sponsored annually by HTA and Hanover Shoe Farms, the tradition was continued in 2015 by MGM Northfield Park and USHWA, with Fair Island Farm coming on board in 2019.

“Caretakers are the backbone of the racing industry, working mostly out of the spotlight, but most instrumental in the success of our equine athletes,” said Kimberly Rinker, USHWA president. “For 40 years, the industry has recognized caretakers, and we are thrilled that Fair Island Farm will continue the tradition to honour one individual for their contributions.”

Any caretaker working for any stable or farm in North America is eligible to be the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year. All that is needed to nominate is a letter or email, 200 words minimum, from an individual or group detailing the skills and special qualities of the caretaker.

The winner will be chosen by a seven-person selection committee comprised of USHWA members, all of whom are former caretakers: Tim Bojarski (chair), USHWA president Rinker, Tom Charters, Moira Fanning, Dean Hoffman, Rob Pennington and Shawn Wiles.

All nomination letters and emails must be received and/or postmarked by Thursday, Dec. 23 and sent to chairman Bojarski at or mailed to Bojarski at 7523 Maple Road, Akron, NY 14001.

(With files from USHWA)