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Jonathan Nance, My Friend Dave top Year End Awards at Portland

May 6, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

Jonathan Nance receives Top Trainer Award
(photo by reed palmer photograph)
By Patrick Kerrison

Like all good things, the 58th season of racing at Portland Meadows must come to an end.

We dished out a few awards on closing day, recognizing the accomplishments of many for this season and each were equally deserved.

Looking first at the Thoroughbred contingent, no one would ever figure that Javier Ortega showed up to the party late. Arriving a month into the season, Ortega worked and worked to grind out 72 wins, 54 seconds and 55 third place finishes. Eighteen wins ahead of his nearest competitors (Twyla Beckner and Tim Neal with 54), Ortega earned Leading Rider honors.

Katherine (Kay) T. Martz earned the title as our Leading Apprentice of the Meet. With 14 wins, Kay lost her bug on February 12 then shortly thereafter suffered an injury in the starting gate that prematurely ended her season.

The trainer and owner standings provided one of the better races of the meet. With Jonathan Nance and Jim Fergason battling it out like Ali & Frazier, the owner contingent of John Petty, Jim Gilmour and Yo Racing provided an equally exciting drive to the wire.

Nance, with one day remaining, edged Fergason 48 wins to 47, and Yo Racing - winning two with one day left - drew clear with 17 wins, leaving Petty and Gilmour behind with 14 apiece.
Yo Racing is comprised of Jonathan Nance, Allen Floyd, Steve Smith and Dan Miller.

In the Quarter horse ranks, Jaimie Martinez closed well to gain the second spot among dash riders, earning 15 wins. However, as strong as his finish was, it wasn't enough to catch Kristin O'Donnell. With 19 wins, she easily won the title as the meets Leading Quarter Horse Jockey.

But it isn't so much the fact that she was the leading rider or that she had 19 wins that's the story with O'Donnell. It is her win percentage. Those 19 wins we mentioned came from only 51 starts.O'Donnell won at a rate of 37%!

Her mere number of second place finishes - four - proves that she was in it to win it, and she won better than a third of the time she ever got a leg up. Many of those victories came from the barn of trainer Don D. Young. Who, not so coincidentally, led all Quarter Horse trainers with 12 wins and - get this - only ONE second place finish. Young's win percentage was an equally well accomplished 35%. His seven third place finishes wrapped up his ITM rate at 59%.

Closest to Young (with respect to percentages) was Ron Raley, who owns and trains all his Quarter Horses. Raley's eight wins in 26 starts garnered a 31% rate for wins, and five seconds with three thirds made his ITM percentage considerably better than half at 62%. Those eight wins as an owner cinched Raley as the meets leading Quarter Horse Owner.

In other categories the Dan Castle Award was deservedly presented to Jockey Edgar Montehermoso. Given to the rider who exemplifies class and professionalism on and off the track, Montehermoso's diligence, hard work, tremendously positive attitude and unyielding work ethic made him a cinch to earn this year's honor as our Dan Castle Award recipient.

My Friend Dave wrapped up the most honors this season as Portland Meadows' Horse of the Meet, Top Handicap Horse and Top Oregon Bred. A winner of three straight handicap events, My Friend Dave entered our signature event - The Portland Meadows Mile - as the local hero.

Finishing second by the ever smallest of margins to Washington's 2004 Horse of the Year - Demon Warlock - all Portland racing fans still look at him as one of our absolute favorites. A gritty, hard working competitor with a great personality, if there were an award for "Most Adored Horse of the Meet", My Friend Dave would have sewn up that award too. He is one horse we all owe a debt of 'thanks' to.

Top 3 Year Old Male honors went to Typhoon Aaron, who was perfect in his first four starts including the Columbia River, The Juvenile Mile and the Flying Lark Stakes. Top 3 Year Old Female was a virtual no brainer with Quartern winning in a unanimous vote.

Top Older Filly or Mare honors were earned by Quiz the Maid. Her four wins, capped by her Sweetheart Handicap victory, proved the Queen of Portland Meadows had reclaimed her crown.
Top Sprinter award went to Slewicide Cruise, whose impressive victory on Opening Day left voters with an indelible impression not soon forgotten.

One Fast Trick was named as Portland Meadows Top Quarter Horse. Although just falling short of winning the first Oregon Quarter Horse Triple Crown by 19-hundredths of a second, this gorgeous filly returned to win the richest race of the meet - by any breed - the $59,000 Far West Futurity.

Claimer of the Meet was unanimous in the voting - Big Al T. Claimed by Janet Floyd for $3,200, Big Al T went on to win eight races this season (11 in all for Floyd including last season too). Most are familiar with the Floyd/Nance connection but it is usually Allen Floyd's name that we are referring to. Not this time, pal. Not now. It's Allen's girl - Janet - who has reaped the benefits of her claim. The only horse Janet Floyd owns, Big Al T has made this game look easy for her and others and perhaps taught Allen and Jonathan a thing or two in the process.

The Portland Meadows Mile was listed as the Race of the Meet. With Demon Warlock narrowly edging My Friend Dave, an electric feeling ripped through the mainline and grandstands for 3/16ths of a mile when the local hero (My Friend Dave) pressed one of the Northwest’s finest to dig deep and reach back in order to get the better of him. Not unlike Slewicide Cruise's performance in the Inaugural Handicap, the Portland Meadows Mile also made an indelible mark in our hearts and the blood rush through our veins like none other.

It was one heck of a meet and with the flux and questions of the future, it's possible that some things may have been missed by some fans. They shouldn't be and such performances were, most regrettably, overshadowed by such this past season. The accomplishments of those listed above and all those who worked equally as hard (but may not have won as many) should never, ever - for a moment - be discounted or forgotten.

It's tough for anyone to make money in this game - from the likes of Bob and Beverly Lewis to those who run a one horse stable. It is the passion, the love, the drive to the wire and the win picture on the mantle (among other things) that keep us in it. There are reasons why this is called "The Greatest Game" - and we all have our own - but we can't wait to do it all again in six more months. Thanks for being a part of it and loving it as much as we do.

We'll see you soon.