Courtney Polan, who works in the Norm Parker Stable based at The Meadows, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Caretaker of the Year Award sponsored by Fair Island Farm in conjunction with the U.S. Harness Writers Association (USHWA).
Polan, 27, has worked for Parker since October 2014, joining the stable after a two-year stint working for Tim Pinske.
“This is amazing,” said Polan, a Pennsylvania native who turned to harness racing after graduating with a degree in biology from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa.
Polan, who owns a retired Standardbred and Quarter Horse, currently takes care of eight horses in the Parker Stable, including the 2019 Meadows Horse of the Year Wild Wild Western.
Wild Wild Western is owned in part by Jacobs Creek Racing’s Jeff Weaver, who nominated Polan for the Fair Island Caretaker of the Year Award.
“I have observed just how special Courtney is at developing a unique relationship with all of her charges,” wrote Weaver. “Each horse garners her attention as though she was all theirs. Each receives full care, unique and
individual attention and even when called for, discipline.”
Polan said one word in the dictionary describes her strength as a caretaker: “Caring.”
“I care. I care a lot,” said Polan. “My biggest thing is that sometimes I care too much. I just love all of them. I don’t have human kids yet, so they are my kids.”
All caretakers in North America were eligible for the award, with nomination letters submitted detailing the skills and special qualities of the nominee. A seven-member panel — all of whom were former caretakers themselves –selected Polan as the winner.
As winner of the Fair Island Farm Caretaker of the Year Award, Polan will receive a cash prize of $500, transportation, hotel accommodations and two tickets to USHWA’s annual Dan Patch Awards banquet, which celebrates the best and brightest of harness racing in the past year. The banquet honoring the champions of 2019 will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando FL, the climax of a weekend that also finds USHWA holding its annual national meetings. The Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year, and Horse of the Year will be revealed for the first time at the Banquet.