llinois harness racing honored its best and brightest on Saturday (Jan. 16)at the USTA District 5 annual dinner banquet in Springfield, Ill. Illinois-breds compete at the highest levels of the sport, and their prowess in 2009 was worthy of celebration indeed.
Prairie State Horse of the Year honors for 2009 went to Southern Rocketop. The 3-year-old gelded son of, out of the mare Summer In The City, put together a fantastic campaign with a race record of 17-11-3-2, which earned him the robust bankroll of $478,360 on the year. Former owner Claude Powers and trainer Robert Taylor campaigned the trotter for most of 2009 before selling him to Tor Birger Krageboen of Norway.
While under their care, Powers and Taylor didn't shy away from the toughest levels of competition for the talented sophomore. Southern Rocketop faced the unanimous choice of the U.S. Harness Writers Associationfor 3-year-old male trotter of the year, and morning line favorite in the race for Horse of the Year,,multiple times, including dropping a one length decision in the $540,000 World Trotting Derby at the Du Quoin State Fair.
Powers and Taylor weren't done collecting hardware, however, as thehalf-sister of Southern Rocketop, Southern Maebelle, took home freshman filly trotting honors. Southern Maebelle racked up a record of 12-4-4-3, en route to building a bankroll of $127,000.
With two such talented progeny tearing up the racetrack, Powers' Summer In The City won Trotting Broodmare of the Year.
While several awards were handed out to the connections of some of the top Standardbreds in Illinois today, one of the sport's future stars was also honored.
Jay Hochstetler won the 2009 Amateur Driver Award. A son of harness racing veterans Homer and Connie Hochstetler, and grandson of Hall of Famer Doug Ackerman, not only is the sport in youngHochstetler's blood, but he has talent to go with it, winning the Mid Western Amateur Driving Championship for 2009.
The following are the divisional champions for 2009:
2-year-old Colt Trot: Run And Tell Pap-Adele's Jade-Noble JadeOwner: Patrick Graham
2-year-old Filly Trot: Southern Maebelle-Summer In The City- Owner: Claude Powers
2-year-old Colt Pace: Power Of A Moment-Panfastic- Owners: Ervin Miller Stable, Leland Mathias and Bert Hochsprung
2-year-old Filly Pace: Fox Valley Oracle-Our Golden Promise- Owner: Stretch It Again Stable
3-year-old Colt Trot: Southern Rocketop-Summer In The City- Owner: Claude Powers
3-year-old Filly Trot: Fox Valley Lover- More- Owners: Paula Smith and James Runyan
3-year-old Colt Pace: Park Lane Deputy-Darling Katherine- Owner: Shirley LeVin
3-year-old Filly Pace: My Heart Was True-Would I Lie-Big TownerOwner: L&L Devisser
Courtesy of Joshua POTTS (USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent)