Charles D. Smith, a 2018 inductee into the UPHA Tom Moore Hall of Fame passed away peacefully this past weekend from complications following a stroke. Charlie brought much more to the table than an exceptional way with an American Saddlebred but he also had the knowledge of the breed to match. Not only was he a successful trainer and breeder, but he also gave back to the industry.
He felt strongly that professionals should work together for change, and to that end he helped with the founding of the UPHA. Charlie served on the UPHA Board, the UPHA Executive Board of Directors and as President of the UPHA. Additionally he played an important role in bringing the UPHA Classics National Championships to fruition. Ever an innovator, he believed strongly in a fair judging system. He also was instrumental in the industry switch from the Mary System to the Hi/Low Judging System.
Continuing to help horsemen, Charlie played a role in the careers of Don Bridges, Johnny Lucas, Kris Knight, Hoppy Bennett, Janet Blagden Barber, April Dunaway, Kathy Capsuto-Walker, George Schmid and many others. One of his protégés, Gary Garone, not only became a top trainer, but followed Charlie's lead to also become President of the UPHA.
Charles D. Smith first gained national recognition during his 13 years as manager/trainer of Randolph Farm in Clearwater, Florida. While at Randolph's, he brought out such World's Champions as Glen Raven, Party Doll, Denmark's Coquette and King Creole to name just a few. He also had the top breeding stallions Secret Society and Secret Selection under his direction. In 1966, Charlie became the manager/trainer of Tri-Oaks Stables in Houston, Texas. There he put together the successful teams of Melissa Lyons with WC The New Look and Dana Lyons with WC Our Anne Marie. Other successful campaigners under Charlie's direction in Houston included Last Revenge, Flaming Decision, James L., Miss Lori and Dianna's Decision.
In 1972 Charlie became manager/trainer of the Rock Creek Riding Club in Louisville, Kentucky. He trained the champions Far Cry and Cedar Creek Mr. Go, as well as the Hackney pony WC Fury's Blossom and the WC Roadster to Bike Dizzy Blonde. In 1975, Charlie built a new training facility on 158 acres in Simpsonville, Kentucky. At his Charles D. Smith Farm he guided the careers of World's Champions Elation, 20th Century Fox, Cedar Creek Farewell, Too Much, Patricia Murphy, Rhythm 'N Jazz, Spencer County, The Phoenix, the Roadster Bomb's Echo, and many more.
Charlie was known for teaming juvenile and amateur riders with the ideal horse. He was instrumental in the show ring success of Pat and Cathy Clark, John Wrather, Kaye Bowles-Durnell, Susan Swope, Heather Stumler, Celeste Burns, Carolyn Garrett, Camille Whitfield, Georgia Herpin Baker, Kim Skipton and many others, many of whom are still active in the business today. Though he concentrated mainly on amateurs and juveniles, he did show himself, winning World's Champion titles in divisions including two-year-old and three-year-old fine harness and both the three-gaited and five-gaited County Fair classes. He showed WC The Phoenix to the Five-Gaited Reserve World's Grand Championship title. Charlie stood the World's Champion sire WC Sensational Spirit and was instrumental in advancing the breeding program of W. Clyde McCoy with the stallions Sultan's Contract and High Rise Spirit. Charlie himself bred WC Hollywood Glitter, WC Raging Storm, RWC Born Leader, etc. He ran a large sales operation, and he personally owned and sold World's Champions Well Chosen, Mac's Danish Harmony, Twilight Mist V.F., Sensational Spirit, Apple Cider, etc. With his partner Jim Skipton he founded S & S Venture Farm, which owned and sold the world's title holders Oak Hill's Desert Rose, Commander's Wings, Only Forever, Magic Supreme, and more.
Charlie retired from training in the mid-1990s to spend more time with his late wife Peggy and their four grown children, Suzanne, Pam, Johan and Jack.