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Stellar Saddlebred Award Winners Announced

Lexington, Kentucky –  Following voting by its directors (on nominations made by the membership), the American Saddlebred Horse Association’s (ASHA) annual award winners have been announced for the 2008 year.  All award winners are saluted at the Saddlebred Ball, a sold-out festive gathering to be held this year at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort in Lexington, Kentucky, on Saturday evening, February 14.

Winner of ASHA’s most coveted honor, for Lifetime Achievement, is professional horseman Don Harris of Don Harris Stables, Cox’s Creek, Kentucky.  Among the most successful trainers in the history of the breed, Harris is perhaps best known for his achievements with World’s Grand Champion Five-Gaited Saddlebred CH Imperator, but he also won the "Big Stake" at the World’s Championship Horse Show on CH Protégé, won the World’s Champion Five-Gaited Gelding title and many championships with the wildly popular CH Giddy-Up-Go, the Three-Gaited World’s Grand Championship on multiple occasions with CH Sultan’s Starina and CH Finisterre’s Gift Of Love, and many other titles there and elsewhere with champions too numerous to list.

To be inducted into the Breeders’ Hall of Fame this year is C. Thomas Galbreath of Castle Hills Farm, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  Among the great stallions he has owned and stood is Sultan’s Santana, among the most prolific and successful of American Saddlebred studs.  He bred Santana’s Charm, a successful performer in his own right, as well as an outstanding sire, and among his get is Sir William Robert, undefeated in Fine Harness and now among the leading American Saddlebred sires. 

The Breeder of the Year Award was begun for the 2006 year, and has been awarded twice since then to Callaway Hills Stable.  This year, for the first time, a "small" breeder receives the award, based on a statistical analysis of breeding success during the 2008 calendar year:  Mary Gaylord McClean’s Golden Creek Farms, Inc. is the winner (Simpsonville, Kentucky).  Just at the Kentucky State Fair alone, she bred four starters, all of which placed first or second, with three wins!  Her outstanding home-breds include the Reserve World’s Grand Champion Five-Gaited Saddlebred According to Lynn, as well as the Fine Harness Amateur World’s Champion of Champions CH Nurse Goodbody (for Stonecroft Farm, owner).

Winners of the C. J. "June" Cronan and Mrs. William P. "Lurline" Roth Sportsmanship Awards are, respectively, professional horseman Mike Spencer (Simpsonville, Kentucky) and Misdee Wrigley Miller, of Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Both Spencer and Miller are among the greatest sportspeople in history, whose innumerable contributions to the breed befit the namesakes of these awards as few others could.  

Other awards and winners include:  for the Gordon Jenkins International Award, Brent Jacobs (Georgetown, Kentucky); Meritorious Service Award, Michele Macfarlane (San Diego, California); Gillenwater Family Award, both the Dix Family (Al, Edna, and Amy Dix Rock) and the extended, multi-generational Lynn Harvey McNamara Family; Frank Ogletree Youth Award, Ivy Johnson (Lexington, Kentucky).

Wing Commander Medals are honors received by those who demonstrate outstanding service to ASHA and the breed, and through that dedication, have attracted interest in the highest quality show horses of the breed, thereby contributing to advancing the Saddlebred’s popularity with the public.  For 2008, these Medals are to be presented to Minna Hankin Mintz (Horsham, Pennsylvania), Bill Wise (Valhalla Farm, Danville, Kentucky), and Earl Teater and Sons (to be represented by Earl Teater, Jr., Ed Teater, and their families).

Information on the 2009 Annual Convention, February 12-14, at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington, Kentucky, including tickets to the Saddlebred Ball on Saturday evening, is available here . Each of the honorees is saluted before an audience of 500 or more attendees, including special tributes and music videos representing their contributions to the breed.

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