Minnesota Stars Honoured At Awards Banquet

Harness racing at Running Aces
Published: March 20, 2022 12:33 pm EDT

Minnesota Harness Racing Inc. hosted it's annual meeting and awards banquet on Saturday (March 19) at Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Racetrack.

Among the top equine honourees were two standout performers who both dominated their respective divisions and were voted as the Horses of The Year in Minnesota by the membership.

Rush To The Bank received that honour for the 2020 season in which he racked up 10 wins from 15 starts as a freshman and bankrolled $67,433 for owners Jeralene Roland and Vickie Rush and trainer Dan Roland while taking a mark of 2:01.2. He is a son of the late, great Minnesota star Banker Volo and is regularly driven by Nick Roland. 

Alilthundadownunda was awarded the crown for the 2021 season, in which he dominated the sophomore pacing division from start to finish and racked up 17 wins from 20 Minnesota starts and posted a new single-season earnings record of $124,925 in the Minnesota program. The impressive son of the late Malak Uswaad N also took a mark of 1:53.4 in the process. He is owned by Set The Pace Racing and is trained and driven by Nick Roland. 

The always competitive and highly regarded aged male pacing division had a renewed rivalry between top geldings SB Bodacious and Stuckey Dote, who shared the fastest 2021 mile time of 1:51.1 with SB Bodacious posting that winning time twice, in two back-to-back races. The pair are both sons of the great Minnesota sire Voracious Hanover.

In both 2020 and 2021, SB Bodacious has been the division champion with Stuckey Dote as the runner-up. SB Bodacious has now won divisional champion honours in three consecutive seasons for owner/trainer/driver Rick Magee, while Stuckey Dote has now won five championship races and is the richest Minnesota-sired horse to date with over $450,000 in the bank for owner/breeder Merlin Van Oterloo and trainer Brett Ballinger. 

Rick Magee was the 2021 county fair Driver of The Year and Justin Anfinson picked up the hardware as Trainer of The Year. 

A pair of Merit/Service Appreciation awards were presented to longtime MHRI board members Mark Corless and Scott Banitt in recognition for their dedication and service to the organization. Both men are leaving their seats on the board in 2022.

The lineup of speakers at this year's event included Justin Anfinson and Greg Budach (MHRI), Taro Ito and Steve Carpenito (Running Aces), Gabe Wand (WHHA), Erin Buie (Lobbyist), Nancy Turner (This Old Horse), Steve May (MRC) and featured guest speaker Jessica Schroeder (USTA), all of whom provided great insight and information related to issues that are important to Minnesota Harness Racing.

The membership also voted to fill three seats on the MHRI board, with those seats going to Dan Roland (at-large), Vikki Pfeilsticker and Jeff Ryan. 

The 2022 live harness racing season in Minnesota gets underway on May 15 and will offer live racing at Running Aces through September 18 and will also offer county fair meetings at Cannon Falls, Saint Peter and Wheaton.

(Minnesota Harness Racing)