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Al Ochsner Honored as New Jersey Horseperson of the Year

State celebrates equestrian achievements at 67th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards.

NEW JERSEY - The New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) celebrated the accomplishments of local horsepersons at the 67th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards, held at the Horse Park of New Jersey. Al Ochsner was distinguished with the 2024 Governor’s Award for Horseperson of the Year, recognizing his significant contributions to the equine industry.

Al Ochsner’s dedicated service to the industry and passion for horses makes him an exemplary person to be honored with this award,” NJDA Secretary Ed Wengryn said. “His work with the Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) has allowed the state to remain one of the leaders in the industry.”

Ochsner, a key figure in the Standardbred Owners Association of New Jersey (SBOANJ) since 2006, has played a pivotal role in advocating for the racing industry. His efforts include enhancing breeding programs and securing substantial state funding to support racing. Ochsner's career in horse breeding is highlighted by raising Precious Bunny, a renowned pacer who won prestigious races like the Meadowlands Pace and was named the 1991 Horse of the Year in both the U.S. and Canada.

During the ceremony, several other individuals and organizations were honored for their contributions to New Jersey’s horse racing and breeding community. Among them was Tactical Approach, recognized with the Secretary of Agriculture Award for New Jersey Standardbred Horse of the Year after achieving a rare trifecta of wins in major races. Another notable accolade, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horse of the Year, was awarded to Book’em Dano, a young racehorse making significant strides in his career.

The NJDA also acknowledged the significant contributions of Southwind Farms in Pennington, honored as Breeder of the year. Southwind Farms is noted for producing high-caliber stallions like Muscle Hill and Tactical Landing, further cementing its reputation with the success of Tactical Approach.

In addition to the professional and breeding awards, the event celebrated community and youth involvement in equestrian activities. McKenzie Jones was named New Jersey Youth Horseperson of the Year for her leadership and volunteer efforts, particularly in making horse riding accessible to youth with learning disabilities.

The celebration also highlighted the educational contributions of recipients like Colton Grzankowski, who received the Bell Scholarship to pursue veterinary medicine focused on large animals and wildlife at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

These awards underscore the vibrant community and dedication within New Jersey’s equine industry, reflecting a collective commitment to excellence and innovation in horse breeding, care, and competition.

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