Day At The Track

Awards dinner a big hit in New Jersey

06:09 PM 01 Mar 2012 NZDT
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The stars on the red carpet during the Academy Awards had nothing on the members of the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of New Jersey (SPHO-NJ), who held their own annual awards show on Feb. 19 at the Holiday Inn in East Windsor.

Nearly 200 people attended the event, where 128 championship ribbons and 82 trophies and awards were presented to 27 different horses and exhibitors. The night began with a cocktail hour followed by a sit down dinner and dessert. During the dinner and awards presentation, different baskets and items were given away. The live auction items were a Brodeur race bike, a canvas print and framed photogrpahs from Vicki Wright Photography, credit for Hogan Equine, credit for veterinarian Barrey Danvers and a Finn-Tack harness.

The SPHO-NJ banquet is the social event of the year for the organization, which showcases the versatility of the standardbred, according to Andy and Julie Miller, Millstone Township

Equine veterinarian Ted Mazzarisi said the night was a top-notch gala event that really showed what the standardbred can do as an athlete and what professionals in the horse industry should strive toward

Top driver Trond Smedshammer, Upper Freehold, said, “I was pleasantly surprised. Good food and atmosphere.”

The director of racing at Freehold Raceway, Karen Fagliarone, said that it was great to see the overwhelming support and generosity of horse enthusiasts.

“Though I’ve only been involved for a few years, it’s great to see this club evolve,” Fagliarone said. “Our banquet is a night of celebrating the achievements of our standardbreds, and each year it gets better and better.”

Driver/trainer Jacquie Ingrassia, Upper Freehold, said, “I can’t help but think how far this SPHO has come in recent years, thanks to Helene Gregory, Rob Pennington, Alison Giorgianni and all the hardworking volunteers connected with it. Bravo for another terrific banquet.”

The SPHO-NJ High Point Horse Champion Award went to the standardbred J.B. and Helene Gregory and Christie DeBernardis. The reserve champion award went to the standardbred Calamar and Rob Pennington, Caroline Green and Rachelle Walsh. Third place went to Osborne’s Shy Cam and Amanda-Lee Keynton. Fourth place went to Independent Act and Suzanne D’Ambrose. Fifth place went to Star Lantern and Taylor Ferguson. Princess Ghanima and Meryl Evangelisti came in sixth place

The National SPHO High Point Horse Champion Award also went to J.B. and Helene Gregory and Christie DeBernardis. The reserve champion award went to Panzo Two and Wendy Flowers and Rachel Ferrante. Calamar and Rob Pennington, Caroline Green and Rachelle Walsh came in third, while Valiant Legacy and Laura Harbour came in fourth. Revenue Stream and Elizabeth Tewksbury took fifth place and Veruca Salt and Laura Harbour finished sixth.

The SPHO-NJ promotes the standardbred horse as a pleasure and sport horse, and hosts an extensive year-end awards program. Annual members fees are $20, with a yearly cost of $15 to sign up state awards program. After competing their standardbreds, members send their points to the SPHO-NJ points secretary Rob Pennington, Allentown, who keeps track of the points for the year-end awards. If members compete their standardbreds against other breeds, they receive added bonus points to encourage members to show off the versatility of standardbreds.

To be considered for the SPHO national awards, participants must register for them through the SPHO-NJ, pay a fee and send in points in the same manner as noted above. The national awards were a new feature for the SPHO-NJ in 2011. These awards recognize a champion, reserve and overall high point horse. SPHO-NJ membership is not necessary for national honors. The SPHO-NJ meets on the first Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Millstone Community Center on Stagecoach Road in the Clarksburg section of Millstone Township.

For more information about the SPHO-NJ, look at the organbization’s website here.

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