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Michigan Racing Commissioner Announces 2004 Horse of the Year Award Winners16 March 2005
This past Saturday, Michigan's leading 2004 state-bred horses were honored by the Office of Racing Commissioner ("ORC") during the Michigan Horse Council's International Stallion Expo.
Acting Racing Commissioner Christine C. White made the presentations at the Expo, which was held at the Michigan State University Agriculture Pavilion in East Lansing. Horses were recognized in the categories of Standardbred Trotter, Standardbred Pacer, Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and, for the first time, Arabian.
Rasberry Worthy was named the 2004 Michigan Standardbred Trotter of the Year. As a seven-year-old mare, Rasberry Worthy recorded 11 wins, two seconds and four thirds out of 29 starts, earning $73,676. Rasberry Worthy is owned and trained by Robert Thomasma of Sturgis. Her primary driver for 2004 was Mark Webster of Gaines. Rasberry Worthy was bred by Robert Thomasma as well. Her sire is N V Worthy and her dam is Rasberry Kate
Mr Minority won the 2004 Michigan Standardbred Pacer of the Year award. As an eight-year-old gelding, Mr Minority recorded 11 wins, five seconds and three thirds out of 25 starts, earning $139,655. Mr Minority is owned by Larry Lyles of Grosse Ile. He is trained by Marie St. Charles of Whitmore Lake and his primary driver for 2004 was Eric Godell of Howell. Mr Minority was bred by R. S. McConnell of Charlotte. His sire is Energy Burner and his dam is Minority Vote.
Rockem Sockem received the 2004 Michigan Thoroughbred of the Year honors. As a four-year-old gelding, Rockem Sockem recorded four wins and two seconds out of seven starts, earning $110,493 for the year. Rockem Sockem is owned by Henry Mast of Byron Center and his trainer is Robert Gorham of Kalamazoo. His primary jockey in 2004 was Terry Houghton of Hazel Park. Rockem Sockem was bred by Ed and Connie Pass of Niles. His sire is Ulises and his dam is Royalty in Motion.
Wonder Smith was named the 2004 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year. As a seven-year-old gelding, Wonder Smith recorded five wins, one second and two thirds out of eight starts, earning $18,312 for the year. Wonder Smith is owned by Scott and Amy Owen of Grayling and his trainer is Larry Smith of Mio. His primary jockey for 2004 was Dale Berryhill of Alma. Wonder Smith was bred by Larry and Betty Smith of Mio. His sire is Naswhan and his dam is Wonderease.
Mr Wright On was named the 2004 Michigan Arabian of the Year marking the first year that the annual award has been presented to an Arabian. As a five-year-old horse, Mr Wright On recorded two wins, one second and one third out of four starts, earning $9,776. Mr Wright On is owned by Paul and Kathryn Smoke of Britton. His trainer is Dicky Benton of Sidney and his primary jockey in 2004 was Julie Fritz of Mount Pleasant. Mr Wright On was bred by Kathryn Kroll-Smoke of Britton. His sire is Monarch Ah and his dam is Sammora.
Horse racing remains an important part of Michigan's agriculture industry. According to the Office or Racing Commissioner, it provides over 26,000 related jobs and more than $1.2 billion in economic impact. The Annual Michigan Horse Council's International Stallion Expo and the naming of the Horses of the Year have become a true harbinger of Spring. Although the industry still faces many competitive challenges, events such as this one highlight the industry's impact on many people within our state and this influence deserves recognition and celebration. The Expo has become the event of the year in which this impact and influence is celebrated.
This year, over 20,000 people attended the three-day event. "It was excellent for the horse industry to get this widespread exposure," said Dominic Perrone, the Department of Agriculture spokesperson. "The ORC had four racehorses on exhibit at the Expo to promote the industry. All the horse organizations collaborated and they had one representative of each breed," noted Mr. Perrone.
In addition to the Racing Commissioner, numerous state legislators, state park office natural resources administrators, and agricultural leaders attended the event, providing the industry with the opportunity to educate the public on the wide scope of the equine industry.
The rest of the gaming industry could learn a thing or two from the equine industry in this regard. Too often the direct and indirect jobs created as a result of the industry simply are not recognized. It is one thing to tell people that there are close to 18,000 people directly employed by the industry, with probably 30,000 more indirectly employed as a result. It means far more to have an event where they can view it first hand.