09/06/2007 11:00PM

Smooth transition from NFL to trainer


MIAMI - The name Maurece Williams might have been a mystery to racing fans when he saddled Spangler's Storm to win the finale at Calder on Aug. 30. But the name Moe Williams is certainly no mystery to football fans who followed the former University of Kentucky running back through his 10-year career in the National Football League.

Well, Maurece Williams and Moe Williams are one in the same, the former Minnesota Vikings player having turned his attention to Thoroughbred racing on a full-time basis following his retirement from pro football in 2006.

Spangler's Storm gave Williams his first winner as a licensed trainer. Williams, 33, a native of Kentucky, operates his five-horse stable off his Genuine Pleasure Farm in Indiantown Gap, Fla. The farm is located about 90 miles north of Calder and just a few furlongs from the Payson Park training center, winter home to some of the most prominent stables and horsemen in the sport.

"I've always been interested in horses, having grown up in Kentucky," said Williams. "I spent many a day while attending the University of Kentucky at Keeneland. I always loved the atmosphere around the track. And while most of my friends were spending their time betting, I'd be out there hanging around the paddock just looking and studying the horses."

Williams began spending more time working hands on with the horses about five years ago after settling down in Indiantown Gap.

"I wanted to be near my family, who live in West Palm Beach," Williams said. "I began working with John Nazareth, the previous owner of this farm, and spent my off-seasons learning the business with his help. John, who I call Papa John, was a former assistant to Leroy Jolley, which is how the farm came to be named Genuine Pleasure, after Genuine Risk and Foolish Pleasure."

Knee surgery and back problems led to Williams's decision to retire from the NFL, along with his desire to work full time with his horses.

"I've been very lucky and blessed in my life," said Williams. "Some people never find one thing they are passionate about in life and I've found two - football and horse racing."

Williams owns his five horses in partnership with Diane Curry, and not only saddles his horses but drives the van to and from the farm in Indiantown Gap each time one is entered in a race at Calder.

"Winning my first race as a trainer was awesome," said Williams. "The only thing I could compare it to was the feeling I had running out of the tunnel before my first NFL game knowing I'd finally made the team."

Williams is also hoping to expand his modest operation.

"I definitely have big dreams," said Williams. "I learned from my mom and my grandmother that you should always want to be the best at whatever you choose to do - whether it's working at McDonald's, playing football or doing this, training horses for a living."

Two sharp horses step up

Olympic and Doc N Bubba G., who both are coming off a victory in a race for first-level optional-claiming horses, figure to vie for favoritism when stepping up to the next level in Sunday's seven-furlong allowance feature.

Olympic, a regally bred son of Danzig, rallied from off the pace to register a three-length victory over stablemate Kristali going a mile in his first start since being transferred to trainer Marty Wolfson's barn during the summer. The 5-year-old Olympic had been trained by both Bobby Frankel and Bill Mott earlier in his career.

Doc N Bubba G. continues to hold his form extremely well for trainer John Shaw. A 3-year-old son of Announce, Doc N Bubba G. has won his last two starts after finishing second in each of his three previous outings.

Alarming Afleet, a 10-length first-level allowance winner in July, will also demand attention in a field that includes I Am Trouble, Bold Promise, Close By, and Melverton.