charles e. keller iii
Charles E. Keller III inherited the spirit and drive for excellence at Maryland’s Yankeeland Farms, started by his father, New York Yankees star Charles “King Kong” Keller, and built it into one of harness racing’s premier nurseries.
Born on August 4, 1939, the younger Keller graduated from the University of Maryland and the Baltimore College of Commerce. In 1955 the elder Keller bought property in Frederick, Maryland to found Yankeeland Farms, Inc., and had such notable early successes as 1970 Harness Horse of the Year, world champion Fresh Yankee 4,T1:57.1 ($1,294,252). Charles Keller III, already an integral part of the farm’s management team, took over the operations of the farm following the death of his father in 1990.
Under the younger Keller the farm’s reputation grew and produced two Hambletonian winners (1998, 2000) in 1998 Dan Patch Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year, world champion Muscles Yankee 3,1:52.2 ($1,424,938) and 2000 O’Brien Horse of the Year Yankee Paco 3,1:53.2 ($1,486,197). Muscles Yankee went on to sire three consecutive Hambletonian winners starting in 2008: Dan Patch Two- and Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year and 2008 Trotter of the Year Deweycheatumnhowe 3,1:50.4 ($3,155,178); Dan Patch Two- and Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year, 2009 Dan Patch Trotter of the Year and Dan Patch and O’Brien Horse of the Year, world champion Muscle Hill 3,1:50.1 ($3,273,342) and Muscle Massive 3,1:51 ($1,239,138).
Muscles Yankee (1998) also appears on the list of four Breeders Crown winners bred by Yankeeland, the others being Yankee Cashmere p,3,1:54.3f ($414,304) in 1994, Yankee Slide 3,1:54.2f ($300,174) in 2004 and Strong Yankee 3,1:50.3 ($1,434,351) in 2005.
Yankeeland owned and campaigned 2003 Dan Patch Award-winning older trotting mare, Hambletonian Oaks winner and world champion Windylane Hanover 3,1:53 ($1,155,231). Yankeeland product Yankee Glide 3,1:55.1 ($506,904) has been a longtime leading trotting stallion with winners of over $83 million. Another Yankeeland-bred star is the 2003 North America Cup winner Yankee Cruiser p,3,1:49.3s ($1,150,123), who has become a successful pacing sire whose offspring have earned over $36 million.
Yankeeland closed in 2006, but the farm continued its legacy through many of today’s champions. In addition to having enriched the sport with his Yankeeland horses and by maintaining a racing stable and a small band of broodmares, Keller also contributed at the highest levels of the sport’s organizations. He was a member of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, SBOA New Jersey, SBOA New York, SBOA Delaware, SBOA Virginia and the American Institute of CPAs. He was on the board of directors of the Hambletonian Society and became its executive chairman. A longtime trustee of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame and former chairman of its Audit Committee and Planned Giving Committee, Keller was also a director of the U. S. Trotting Association and an active member of its important Financial Committee.
“Charlie” Keller passed away on August 13, 2021.