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Pompano pays tribute to 'RJ' Williams

June 21, 2011

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The praise and memories flowed freely in a trackside memorial tribute for Robert (RJ) Williams III during the Monday evening, June 20 program at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.

The promising 25 year old driver and horseman was tragically taken from his Pompano and Michigan harness racing contemporaries three weeks ago. 'RJ' Williams lost his life when his truck crashed into a tree near Leslie, MI on June 1st while he was on an errand for hay and feed. The official police report declared that neither drugs nor alcohol were a factor in the fatal mishap. He was the son of Robert Williams Jr. who has been a popular member of the South Florida backstretch colony for 25 years, and the grandson of Robert Williams, a success horseman in Michigan and Illinois over a half century ago.

"When a pacer named Sempre Ribera and 'RJ' both got their first win together you would've thought he'd just won The Little Brown Jug" said Pompano's John Berry, in an emotional trackside summary of the eulogies sent in for 'RJ' Williams. "Yet, he had made it known he was going to follow the good influences of his dad, his grandfather, and the members of the Audley, Aylor, Gluhm, and Working families from his extended family on the Pompano backstretch. We have truly lost one of the nicest, most polite, hard working and talented persons among us."

The tribute had to be held on the track because space in the winner's circle was not sufficient for the huge turnout. A presentation of an enlarged photo of the first lifetime driving win for 'RJ' was accompanied by a $500 cheque to Robert Williams Jr. from the Aime Choquette Benevolent Fund of the Florida chapter of the United States Harness Writers' Association.

Drivers Matt Kakaley and Mike Micallef returned from venues in northern states to be a part of the tribute. They also drove in the evening's $14,000 purse feature race, the top weekly event for pacing fillies and mares. The Robert Williams III Memorial Pace was won by I'm Just Special in a dominant front end effort in 1:52.1 with Jason Dillander in the bike. Peter Pellegrino trains the career winner of more than $630,000 for Susan and Ted Colby of Bronxville, NY. Special Sweetheart in rein to Matt Kakaley and Nillabomb with Mike Micallef in the bike followed next under the wire.

A single Monday evening program remains in June in addition to the Wednesday and Saturday programs at 7:05 p.m. Eastern. Monday cards will be dropped from the schedule for the final month of the current meet in July, with live race night streaming and replays always available for free in the 'racing' tab of www.theislepompanopark.com . (Pompano Park)
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