James Tafel (right) was honored as top breeder in the nation at the Sept. 6 TOBA Awards dinner.

James Tafel (right) was honored as top breeder in the nation at the Sept. 6 TOBA Awards dinner.

Matt Goins

TOBA Honors Racing's Best

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association once again honored the top men and women in racing in North America for their industry achievements from the previous year at its annual dinner. Those honored Sept. 6 at the Lexington Center represented 27 states and provinces.

Youbet.com sponsored the gala for the third consecutive year, and as usual, the event hosted a silent auction and musical entertainment, this year by the California-based contemporary swing-style band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Taking home the major awards at the gala were Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs and Jim Tafel. Adena Springs won the title of owner of the year, and Tafel was honored as top breeder in the nation. Both were honored at the regional level.

Stronach campaigned eight stakes winners in 2007 alone or in partnership, including grade I winners Citronnade, Sugar Shake, and Ginger Punch, who was named Horse of the Year and champion older mare in Florida, as well as champion older mare in the United States.

Tafel, who has been involved in the Thoroughbred industry for 25 years, is best known as the breeder and owner of Street Sense, who became the first winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) to continue on to take the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

Tafel shared with the audience a conversation he had with his father many years ago. “My dad told me that a good horse can come from anywhere, and to my fellow breeders and owners out there, it happened to you and it happened to me.”

The day before the TOBA dinner, numerous state breeders and one Canadian had received awards for their individual accomplishments in each region.

TOBA chairman Reynolds Bell gave a “well done” to the recipients at the dinner. “On behalf of the board, we want to honor the winners who have succeeded across the U.S. and Canada. You are the backbone of this industry, and we feel proud to be honoring you tonight.”

Bell also cautioned them on their responsibilities to racing.

“Safety in the industry regarding the horse is paramount, and the status quo is no longer acceptable. The sport must not only adapt to today’s world, but to tomorrow’s as well. We must stay united as an industry.”
Also honored at the regional level were West Point Thoroughbreds and Zayat Stables, who were co-winners of the Eastern region owner award.

Jeff Bessa won The Racing Game’s new owner of the year award, while the Sales Integrity Task Force collected the Industry Service Award.