by Jessica Schroeder, U.S. Trotting Association Outreach
Reno, NV — In May 2011, the USTA announced a partnership with the American Endurance Ride Conference to award the Standardbred that recorded the most miles ridden during the ride season. It is only fitting that the 2011 award winner was also a winner on the racetrack, East Meets West.
Patricia Clark of North Carolina now has East Meets West or “Eli” as he is affectionately known. The 7-year-old gelding by Western Paradise recorded one racing win at Plainridge Racecourse at the age of two and made $6,707. Clark got Eli from New Vocations Racehorse Adoption based in Ohio, and in 2009 they competed in their first endurance ride.
“It never fails when I attend an endurance ride with Eli, someone has to look him up and down and say, what kind of horse is that?,” Clark says. “I wanted a horse that had a gentle temperament, athleticism, and the potential to have a variety of gaits. I found all of those in Eli. He has legs of iron from years of jogging on the racetrack. He can trot for hours at 10-13 mph and his bursts of speed dazzle the imagination.”
During the 2011 ride season (Dec. 1, 2010–Nov. 30, 2011) Eli and Clark recorded 260 miles in sanctioned AERC rides. In total, 16 Standardbreds competed for the award. Winners of various awards will be honored at the AERC convention at the Grand Sierra Resort & Casino in Reno, Nev., on Saturday (March 10). While Clark was not able to make the trip West, she and Eli will be announced as winners by the emcees during the national awards banquet.
“I am deeply honored that my Eli is the first recipient of this prestigious honor,” Clark said when told Eli would be the inaugural winner of the Standardbred Endurance Award. “He exudes everything that I love about Standardbreds and I can’t think of a better representative for the breed and for ex-racehorses. I feel that this award has and will continue to encourage those of us competing on Standardbreds to continue in this sport.”
Since 1996, the Standardbred Equine Program has worked with off-the-track Standardbreds and their owners to educate the general public on the many disciplines at which Standardbreds excel once they are retired from racing. For more information about the SEP at the USTA, visit standardbreds.ustrotting.com, or send e-mail inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.