This year's Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association dinner took place at John Sikura's picturesque Hill 'n' Dale Farm near Lexington, where elite horsemen from across the country gathered Sept. 8 for a night of entertainment by Aretha Franklin and a ceremony to honor their accomplishments in the industry.
“This is a record event,” TOBA chairman Bill Casner told the crowd. “There are more than 1,200 people here tonight, and every one of you is an integral part of making this happen.”
In his address, Casner cited Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear’s support of the Thoroughbred industry, the success of synthetic surfaces in lessening racing injuries, and the progress of the sales integrity program as positive developments.
Taking home major awards from the gala were Maggie Moss and Charlotte Weber of Live Oak Plantation. While Moss won the title of owner of the year, Weber was honored as top breeder in the nation for 2006.
Starting with a $25,000 claimer in 1998, Moss' racing stable has blossomed into one of the best in the nation and she currently ranks third this year on the owners by earnings list. Moss' runners carried her colors to the winner's circle in seven stakes contests last year at Prairie Meadows, Monmouth Park, and Fair Grounds.
In accepting the TOBA award, Moss, a former lawyer, said, “I’ve tried a lot of cases, but this is the most overwhelmed I’ve ever been. I’ve never been more honored in my life. I’ve been around people tonight that I’ve only dreamed of meeting.”
Weber, who was 2005 TOBA owner of the year, remained a driving force in the industry in 2006. Continually striving to improve her breeding stock at her Ocala, Fla.-based farm, Weber found 2006 graded stakes success with six homebreds, including NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) winner Miesque's Approval.
“I want to thank my whole team,” she said. “It isn’t because of me or anything special I’ve done. It’s because of my support system that I got this award.”
The day before the TOBA dinner, 26 state breeders and one Canadian had received awards for their individual accomplishments in each region. Weber was also recognized as the top Southern region and Florida owner of the year, while Moss was additionally honored as Midwestern regional owner.
Other regional winners and finalists for the national owner honor were 2006 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Darley Stable, headed by Sheikh Mohammed (Eastern); and John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) victor J. Paul Reddam (Western).
Steve Warner of Fast Lane Farms was named small breeder of the year, and Kentucky native Thomas Hewitt won the Racing Game's new owner of the year award.