The Washington Thoroughbred industry's annual salute to its year-end champions took place Feb. 27, with Stryker Phd honored as Washington Horse of the Year for the second straight year.
Several industry members were also lauded for the contributions to the racing community, including Blood-Horse online features editor Claire Novak, who won the Mark Kaufman Media Award for her story on local and international horseman David Mowat.
The evening started out with Mike Pegram, who raced champions Real Quiet, Silverbulletday and Midnight Lute , presenting Dr. Mark Dedomenico with the S. J. Agnew Special Achievement Award. Dedomenico is the man behind the state-of-the-art Redmond-based Pegasus Equine Training and Rehabilitation Center.
A trio of Special Training Achievement Awards were presented to Jeffrey Metz, David Martinez, and the husband and wife team of Larry and Sharon Ross.
The first horse titles of the night went to two hard-knocking and successful claimers. Dare Me Devil, who races for Rancho Viejo and Jerry Carmody, went from most improved plater in 2014 to plater of the year in 2015. The 2014 plater of the year Touch the Sun's younger half sister, John E. Parker's Among the Stars, earned the most improved title in 2015.
Karl Krieg's homebred Absolutely Cool earned his third consecutive Washington champion sprinter title. His stablemate Lady Rosberg, also bred and raced by Krieg, took her second turf horse title and was also awarded state champion older filly or mare. Krieg was honored as leading owner of Washington-breds in 2015.
Three-year-old titles were shared by another pair of homebreds. Howard Maggard's homebred Betrbegone (top colt or gelding) and Shawn and Todd Hansen's Ethan's Baby, who added the sophomore filly title to her champion juvenile filly trophy of 2014.
Jim and Mona Hour's 2015 and 2014 Longacres Mile (gr. III) winner Stryker Phd was named champion older horse for the third year in a row, and the gelding was introduced as the second runner in the 21st century to gain back-to-back Washington Horse of the Year honors.
For the fifth year in a row, Gibson Thoroughbred Farm's Parker's Storm Cat held the top spot among the sire rankings with freshman sire honors going to El Dorado Farms' Coast Guard.
Pam and Neal Christopherson's Bar C Racing Stables was named top breeder of Washington-breds for the year and their two-time champion-producing Bahati was named 2015 Washington broodmare of the year.
Another repeat winner was Keaton Hoy's Mathematician, who was named top OTTB (Off The Track Thoroughbred) in both 2014 and 2015.
Two other special awards were bestowed during the evening. Former Emerald Downs president and founder Ron Crockett presented the WTBOA/WHBPA Special Recognition Award to Patty Brown, whose courtesy and knowledge during her years at the Washington Horse Racing Commission has aided many.
Recently retired racing commissioner Paul George was another whose longtime efforts in the Thoroughbred industry earned him a Special Achievement Award.
The gala was presented by the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association with support from Emerald Downs, the Washington Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association, and the Washington Thoroughbred Foundation.