The Indiana Standardbred Association along with the Standardbred Advisory Board and Harrah’s Hoosier Park provided the annual Standardbred Awards Banquet Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Embassy Suites in Noblesville. Leaders in the Indiana Sired Fair Circuit, Elite Series, Indiana Sires Stakes, and Indiana Sired Champions were honored as well as the top drivers, trainers, and special recognition awards to some very deserving individuals.
Kevin Mack served as emcee of the event. The evening kicked off with recognition of the three outgoing ISA members Sara Boggs, Chad Gooding and Dennis Petty followed by a Special Recognition Award to Jordan Ross, who received the first standing ovation of the night. Ross represented the U.S. this past summer in the World Driving Championship and comes off the best year of his career in 2023.
The ISA also recognized J.D. Finn and Charles Stewart for their work as blacksmiths in the paddock during the racing as well as Kristina Smith, outrider at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. In a surprise recognition, Emily Ratcliff was honored with a special video tribute followed by an introduction by Brian Elmore, who hired Ratcliff at Harrah’s Hoosier Park when he was general manager of racing. John DeLong, ISA President, and Tony Renz, ISA Executive Director, made the presentation to Ratcliff, who completes more than 12 years as race marketing manager and on-air commentator, a position that she is known nationally for.
Robert “Shrimp” Norberg was awarded ISA Groom of the Year with Indiana State Representative Bob Cherry receiving the coveted ISA Pinnacle Award. Cherry, who has announced he will not seek reelection after his term ends in November, has been a longtime advocate for racing. Mike McDaniel, who serves as lobbyist for the ISA, made the presentation and noted Cherry is a true champion for racing.
Vicky Rouch was honored with the Harness Horse Youth Foundation Service to Youth Award while ISA Youth of the Year honors were presented to Cody Jacobs, Bryce Nickells and Lucas Shetler. Jay Hochstetler was also honored for being selected for the Rising Star award this year for North America.
Trace Tetrick and Tyler George repeated as top driver and trainer, respectively on the pari-mutuel circuit while Doug Rideout was a repeat winner for ISFC Driver and Trainer of the Year. Small Breeder of the Year was awarded to William C. and William P. DeLong with Victory Hill Farm receiving their ninth consecutive award as Large Breeder of the Year. Tellitlikeitis was Pacing Stallion of the Year while Swan for All was Trotting Stallion of the Year. Both horses stand at Victory Hill Farm.
Pacer of the Year went to Coach Stefanos while Ponda Title was awarded Trotter of the Year.
ISFC Track Announcer Rick Uppal announced all Elite Series and ISFC winners for the night before Kevin Mack announced all divisional winners for both the Indiana Sires Stakes and Indiana Sired Champions.
The evening concluded with numerous door prize drawings followed by live entertainment from The Bishops. A full list of winners will be featured in the March issue of the ISA Magazine.