Apple Juice Voted 2023 Minnesota Horse Of The Year

Apple Juice winning at Running Aces
Published: February 18, 2024 12:45 pm EST

Apple Juice was named 2023 Minnesota Horse of the Year at the Minnesota Harness Racing Inc. annual meeting and awards banquet on Saturday, Feb. 17 at Running Aces. 

Apple Juice, who earned the divisional award as the 2023 freshman filly champion pacer, garnered the most votes for Horse of the Year in a very accomplished field of nominees that also included Dougsmonkeybusines, Handsome Harvey, Baby Flash, Deja Vu Babyboo, Give Me This Dance, Bringoverthemoney, Maggie Rhee, Iron Sharpens Iron and BPs Lucky Star. 

Apple Juice (Fancy Schmansy-Computer Art) is a homebred for owner/trainer/breeder Scott Banitt.

She was part of a huge rivalry amongst the top two fillies in her division, trading wins and frequent head-to-head battles with the division runner-up, Deja Vu Babyboo. Apple Juice was able to capture the championship award by dominating the final six weeks of the season and posting five wins in her last seven starts of the year.

On Night of Champions (Sept. 16), she also dominated the $65,000 division final with a sharp gate-to-wire performance in 1:54.3, which was just one tick slower than her career mark of 1:54.2 that she recorded on Aug. 24.

Apple Juice finished her freshman campaign with an overall total of eight wins and four seconds from 13 starts and earnings of $103,117, which places her at the top of the all-time seasonal earnings list for two-year-old filly pacers in Minnesota. 

Jacob Cutting was the first-call driver for Apple Juice throughout her impressive 2023 campaign. 

"When you have a good one, you just know, you can feel it, and we could tell she was a good one right from the start," said Banitt during the celebration of the award.

He also shared that the filly was named by his grandson.

"We bought the mare [Computer Art] and we called her 'Apple' in reference to Apple computers, so my grandson came up with the name of Apple Juice for the filly." 

Banitt's wife Becki added, "She is such a special horse and we love her so much, and she has a special bond with our six-year-old granddaughter -- they are best friends and seeing them together just warms my heart. She is just an amazing girl."

(With files from Minnesota Harness Racing Inc.)

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