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SPHO-NJ hands out awards
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - from the SPHO-NJ

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This past Sunday (Feb. 14), on Valentine’s Day, the SPHO-NJ celebrated their 2015 high point riders and Standardbreds with a “pretty In pink” themed awards banquet.

Over 200 horsemen and women attended the festivities and everyone thought it was a great way to celebrate Valentine’s, as days like this often collides with racing.
Not only awards was handed out, many fundraising auctions and raffles were offered and the SPHO-NJ wants to thank everyone for the tremendous support. Trainer-driver Jeff Gregory was handling the live auctions that had many great items donated by horse and harness racing enthusiasts and vendors.

Vicki Wright photos

The overall High Point Standardbred for the Mid Atlantic Region was the unraced 7-year-old gelding Heavymeatalthunder. Laura Harbour accepted his award.

The organization is a 501(3)c organization based in New Jersey that has a mission to educate and make the general public aware of how versatile the Standardbred can be off the racetrack, and all the donations help funding clinics, shows and other activities all geared towards showcasing Standardbreds.

Every year the SPHO-NJ holds a National Standardbred Horse Show. It is presented in the heart of New Jersey with purse money and a substantial amount of classes of all different disciplines. The 2016 show is scheduled for August 13-14 and it will be the 22nd annual show.

Kelly Marshall (Far right) presents her mother, Donna Marshall, with the new Treacherous Cat Work Ethic Volunteer of the Year Award, flanked by Rob Pennington SPHO-NJ, points secretary.

The awards program can be found at the website:  The club offers both an in-state and a Mid Atlantic Regional year-end awards as well as special awards that are based on National Horse Show criteria.

The overall High Point Standardbred for the Mid Atlantic Region was Laura Harbour from Kentucky, who represented with her unraced 7-year-old gelding Heavymeatalthunder (Real Artist - Five Star Comfort).

The New Jersey state High Point Horse was Independent Act, a 15-year-old gelding owned by Suzanne D’Ambrose of Neptune N.J. "Indy" is no stranger to New Jersey residents as he is out on tour many times a year to visit public libraries and other events spreading the word about horses and harness racing. Indy is a laid-back boy and he loves children and he is the perfect ambassador as he will stand for hours letting kids pet, hug and kiss him. Indy is also a steady trail mount as well as a show horse for both Suzanne and her Junior rider Sawyer Baker.

The SPHO-NJ officers: From left, Rob Pennington, points secretary; Terry Keynton; Suxanne D’Ambrose, secretary; Helene Gregory, vice president; Alison Giorgianni, president; and Jim Giorgianni, treasurer

A new award was created this year, the Treacherous Cat Work Ethic Volunteer of the Year Award, and it will be awarded every year from now on to a club volunteer that has gone beyond means to help out at functions and the horse shows.

Treacherous Cat, or "TC" as he is called, has shown with this organization longer than any other horse, and with many different riders and exhibitors, but for the main part of his show career he was owned and handled by Kelly Marshall of Vermont. Kelly is the daughter of driver Jim Marshall III and Donna Marshall and the award very fittingly went to Donna this year, for her tireless efforts with this organization. Donna will always make sure everyone has what they need, judges have water during hot summer classes, shipping for horses that have no transportation, etc. Donna will always go above and beyond to help out in any way she can. And this is while she had her own horses to tend to and sometimes racing nights before the events.

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