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Mastroianni Helps Raise Record Funds At Evening Under The Stars

Spurred by the need to raise money, the 16th annual Evening Under the Stars gala was the "mane" event in Palm Springs on Saturday, April 25, 2009. Besides the Magic of Motown stylings of Mary Wilson of The Supremes, the event to benefit the AIDS Assistance Program featured Mastroianni, the 2008 Morgan World Champion Stallion.

The magnificent stallion was part of a full-horse breeding package on the auction block that included a breeding to produce a foal, its delivery and three years of boarding, feeding, grooming and training at Blackridge, RJH in Temecula, Calif.

The dashing sire Mastroianni, a fourth-generation world champion, grew in stature after his debut season in 2008, said Robert Hughes, breeder, trainer and original owner of the stallion who is now owned by Sherry Bartolucci of SLB Morgans.

What prompted the package? Hughes and partner Rich Young are Angel benefactors who applaud the work of this group which provides food vouchers to help people in need living with HIV-AIDS. "We donate things all the time to our own group of horse people, but have not done anything quite like this,'' Hughes said. "I was proud to take him to the gala."

When Hughes presented Mastroianni, the audience fell silent, you could have heard a pin drop. It was amazing to see the crowd’s response to the beauty of this exquisite horse. The majority of the crowd of over 1,200 gathered around for a closer look during the live auction, which was one of the many highlights of the evening.

At the end of the evening, the Mastroianni breeding package was the highest bid for an item in the history of the 16 years of the event, going for $15,000, with the winning bid going to longtime Morgan horse owners Kathleen and Steve Kabel of Anaheim Hills, Calif. At the end of the evening this year’s event raised $200,000 for the AIDS Assistance Program. 

"What a great addition this outstanding and unique donation made to our gala. Not only did this make our local paper front page, but it successfully added to the cache and magic of the night, created wonderful revenue for our charity, and all that aside from the fact that the winning bidder is honoring our event by appropriately naming the foal after the event," remarked Mark Anton, president/executive director of AIDS Assistance Program.

Past headliners for the event have Barry Manilow, Suzanne Summers, Lorna Luft, Bea Arthur, Lily Tomlin, Nancy Wilson, Pink Martini and this year, Mary Wilson, one of the founding members of the Supremes along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard.

Wilson had the event rocking with her musical show for more than 90 minutes, singing the classics of Motown in celebration of their 50th anniversary, ending with a spectacular fireworks display and her singing "America." 

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