Juddmonte, Franks Receive Top Honors at TOBA Awards Dinner

Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms was honored as National Breeder of the Year and the late John Franks was recognized as National Owner of the Year Friday night during the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) National Awards Dinner at Juddmonte near Lexington.

Juddmonte, whose owner is a Saudi prince, is the only four-time winner of the Eclipse Award as North America's outstanding breeder, and the operation has captured two Eclipses as the continent's outstanding owner.

"This is the one of the awards you really like to get because it doesn't reflect a single achievement; it recognizes the whole operation -- the time and trouble taken by the owner, the managers, and the staff," said one of Abdullah's key advisers, Dr. John Chandler, of the TOBA honor.

Louisiana oilman Franks, who died late in 2003, is the only four-time winner of the Eclipse Award as leading owner. He also was honored Friday night by TOBA as the Southern Regional Owner of the Year.

"He made a passionate pursuit of the Thoroughbred industry," said Hill 'n' Dale Farm's John Sikura, who is coordinating the dispersal of Franks' horses. "(He was) a man who could have afforded to buy the very best at all times, but who chose his unique approach to pursue his passion. Of all the successful endeavors in his life, I know that the one he was the most proud of was his involvement in the Thoroughbred industry, and his achievement and recognition will live on through the success of the families that he bred."

Texas breeder Eileen Hartis, who bred grade I winner Got Koko, was honored as the TOBA Small Breeder of the Year.

"I stand before you tonight, so happy, so proud, so grateful to be the Small Breeder of the Year," Hartis said. "I'm overwhelmed. I kind of feel like Cinderella at the ball because when I go home Tuesday my car is going to turn into a pumpkin and Wednesday morning I'm going to be feeding horses and cleaning stalls. This is a dream come true."

Also recognized Friday night were the following:
Gus Schickedanz, Eastern Region Owner of the Year; Frank Calabrese, Midwest Region Owner of the Year; Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt's Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Western Region Owner of the Year; L. O. "Buzz" Heidtke, The Greatest Game New Owner of the Year; and Herb and Ellen Moelis, Industry Service Award.