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Emerald Downsn | E Z Kitty Named 2013 Washington Horse of the Year | Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association
Bruce and Cass Maller's Highlander Racing Stables LLC's E Z Kitty took home 2013 horse of the year honors at the Washington Champions Annual Awards Banquet held Saturday, Feb. 22, at Emerald Downs in Auburn.
In addition to the top honor, the five-year-old daughter of He's Tops was named champion older filly or mare and turf performer after winning five stakes races at Emerald Downs and Turf Paradise in Arizona. Bred by Jerry and Peggy Woods at their Woodstead Farm in Chehalis, E Z Kitty was also the top-earning Washington-bred performer of 2013 with $183,026 garnered from her 13 starts which was led by six wins. Trained by 2013 special racing achievement winner Jeffrey Metz for the last ten months of her career, which included a win in the 2014 New Year's Day Kachina Handicap at Turf Paradise, E Z Kitty is now in Kentucky and is scheduled to be bred to Exchange Rate.
E Z Kitty is the third offspring of He's Tops, a son of the great Seattle Slew, to earn state Horse of the Year honors. E Z Kitty follows No Giveaway (2005) and Reba Is Tops (2009) in the top spot. He's Tops was bred by prominent Seattle businessman and sports entrepreneur Herman Sarkowsky.
Older horse and gelding honors went to stakes winner and Longacres Mile (G3) runner-up Stryker Phd, a four-year-old son of Bertrando who races for Jim and Mona Hour and was trained by Margo Lloyd.
Stryker Phd's three-year-old half-sister Madam Pele, by Salt Lake, who races for Zach and Beth Correa's Kama'aina Thoroughbreds and was trained through much of the year by Jim Penney, earned the championship title in her division.
Music of My Soul, the state's 2102 champion two-year-old male runner, added the three-year-old title for Ken and Marleen Alhadeff's historic Elttaes Stable. He was one of two 2013 champions trained by Doris Harwood.
Among the 2013 juvenile set, Pam and Neal Christopherson (Bar C Racing Stable Inc.) and Melodie Bultena and Doak Walker (Desert Rose Racing LLC) homebred Del Rio Harbor, also trained by Harwood, won the state's top juvenile race - the Gottstein Futurity - and two other stakes and was named champion two-year-old colt or gelding. Michael and Amy Feuerborn's three-time stakes-winner Chu and You - a full sister to 2011 champion two-year-old male Chu and I - was named the champion two-year-old filly. 2013 special racetrack achievement award winner Robbie Baze trains the talented miss. The filly's pensioned sire, You and I, is living out his days at Old Friends horse retirement facility in Kentucky.
Karl Krieg's homebred Absolutely Cool, Washington's champion handicap horse of 2012, returned to the races to add the 2013 sprinter of the year title. The now seven-year-old gelding - who has earned both champion titles under the tutelage of trainer Valorie Lund - added the biggest stakes win of his career on February 15 when he won the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap by two lengths.
In addition to Metz, and Baze, a special racetrack achievement award was given to Howard Belvoir's 2008 Washington Horse of the Year Wasserman, who retired last year at age 11 as Emerald Downs' leading earner and will now serve as a Washington racing goodwill ambassador. Fans can look forward to a Wasserman bobble head giveaway during the 2014 meet.
The recipients of the Mark Kaufman Media Awards, which honors members of the press and their contributions to Thoroughbred racing in our state, were: Jim Price, of Spokane, a writer and former copy editor for The Spokesman-Review; former Playfair publicist and track announcer; and Monica Bretherton, of Seattle, who writes the "Horsebytes" blog for the Seattle PI.
Nico Sauve' was named Washington plater of the year and Skyribbon received the most improved plater trophy.
Other horse awards were earned by Parker's Storm Cat (the state's leading sire by earnings for the third consecutive year); Nationhood (top first-crop sire by earnings) and Julia Rose (broodmare of the year and dam of state champions Noosa Beach and Music of My Soul).
Frederick (Rick) and Debbie Pabst's Blue Ribbon Farm earned their third straight breeder of the year title and Karl and Darlyne Krieg were the state's top owners of Washington-bred earners for the second consecutive year.
The WHBPA/WTBOA Special Recognition Award was given to Sue Spooner of Olympia in recognition of her willingness to serve, open generosity and continued dedication to the Washington Thoroughbred racing industry.
A special "Thoroughbred Industry Award for Excellence" was presented by former WTBOA General Manager Ralph Vacca to longtime WTBOA staffer Susan van Dyke.
The evening's activities also featured the well-received Washington Horseman's Stimulus Silent Auction and Raffle, which has become an annual feature at the February celebrations.