After dinner at The Wilds Gold Club in Prior Lake and being regaled with stories by track announcer and voice of the Minnesota Vikings Paul Allen, the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association got down to the business of handing out hardware: awards for the top horses and horsemen of the 2o14 racing season.
The big winner on the evening was a small operation whose homebreds loomed large over Minnesota Racing in 2014.
Rake Farms LLC, owned and operated by Scott Rake, took home an armful of awards, starting with Bourbon County in the Older Male category. Bourbon County kicked off his 2014 campaign with a narrow loss in the 10,000 Lakes but bounced back strong, taking two of his last three races including a convincing win in the Minnesota Classic.
Rake was also represented on the Distaff side with 3-year old Sky and Sea winning the title of best 3-Year Old Filly off of her triple stakes winning season in which she won the Francis Genter, the Minnesota Oaks and the Minnesota Distaff Sprint where she dispatched her elders.
Not to be outdone by his equine athletes, Rake was also awarded the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association and Charles Bellingham awards as top Minnesota breeder while Sky and Sea’s dam, Peaceful Sky, was broodmare of the year.
“We are very, very fortunate,” Rake said. “Patience and perseverance is eventually rewarded in this game and while this past season was a dream, there were others along the way that were not.”
“We had a gelding once,” Rake related, “that got beat by so many lengths that when he finally finished he thought he won the race! Those types of experiences make this one very special.”
The late owner/breeder Camelia Casby, who passed away in October, was represented by her mare Talkin’ Bout, who was named the top Older Female. A donation in her memory was made to Dr. Richard Bowman’s foundation to rehab and rehome ex-racehorses, a cause that was very important to Casby.
One of the criteria for an MTA divisional award is that the owners and breeders be MTA members. This year, clearly the best 3-year old male was Victor Meyers and Minnesota Derby winner Speed is Life whose owners, EZ/AZ Thoroughbreds, are long time MTA members while the gelding’s breeder is not. It was determined that Speed is Life would receive the owner award while Vanderbilt Beach, whose breeder is MTA member Curt Sampson, would receive the breeder award.
Two year old filly Sioux Appeal took the top spot for owner/breeder Jeff Larson, going two for two on the season including a win in the Northern Lights Debutante. Two year old gelding, Hold for More, bred by Wood-Mere Farm and owned by Dale Schenian, was named top 2-Year Old Male off the strength of his dominating 5 ¼ length win in the Northern Lights Futurity.
Chairman Crooks, named for longtime Chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community the late Stanley Crooks by owner Curt Sampson, was named top Minnesota owned horse on the strength of 5 in the money finishes in 8 starts including a third place in the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby.
The late sire Ghazi was named top Minnesota sire for owners Eugene and Rita Boehlke. His last crop of foals are 3-year olds of 2015 .
The inaugural Thoroughbred Charities of America Award of Merit, awarded to an individual who has gone above and beyond to make the lives of Thoroughbreds or their caretakers better, was presented to training center owner/operator Russ Rhone who has for years cared for off track Thoroughbreds on his own initiative before they could be shipped to Dr. Bowman’s facility in North Dakota.
The evening closed with MTA Board Secretary Mary Malkerson being named the MTA Board Member of the Year Award. Criteria of the award, voted on by his/her peers, is the Board member that has most gone above and beyond the call of duty throughout the past year.