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For Immediate Release: January 23, 1999 Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic

Dr. David A. Meirs II of Cream Ridge was honored as "Horseperson of the Year" by the Garden State's equine industry at the 42nd annual Breeders Awards Dinner today. Meirs is president of Walnridge Farm and Equine Clinic, a Standardbred breeding facility in Cream Ridge, Monmouth County.

Muscles Yankee, a 3-year-old trotting colt who won the million-dollar Hambletonian and $480,000 Breeders Crown, was honored as New Jersey Standardbred of the Year while Red Weasel, a three-year-old gelding, was named New Jersey Thoroughbred of the Year.

Meirs was born in Columbus, New Jersey, the son of an avid harness horse fan. He attended Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. After inheriting a struggling dairy farm in 1956, Meirs moved to Monmouth County where he established the Walnridge Equine Clinic in 1965.

With the advent of the New Jersey Sire Stakes Program in 1972, Meirs began breeding Standardbreds. The first stallion to stand at Walnridge was PEERSWICK, a horse imported from New Zealand who became the first horse to pace a mile in two minutes in New Jersey. Since then, Walnridge has been home to numerous well-known Standardbred stallions, including Beach Towel, Falcons Future and the internationally-known Niatross. In addition, since 1980 Direct Scooter has stood at Walnridge, siring winners of more than $80 million, including 230 horses who have won races in 1:55 or less.

Dr. Meirs is president of Walnridge Farm and Equine Clinic and a partner in the Concorde Stud Farm in Cream Ridge. He serves as a trustee for the Horse Park of New Jersey, and is a member of the Advisory Committee on Equine Research at Rutgers University, the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education, and the admissions committee for the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

A founding member of the New Jersey Equine Practitioners, Meirs is also a member and former director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and a member and past president of both the New Jersey Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association.

Meirs has published numerous articles in national publications, including "Epidemiologic Studies of Lyme Disease in Horses and their Public Health Significance."

Meirs is the father of three, all of whom are involved with the family business, and the grandfather of nine.

Muscles Yankee, sired by Valley Victory and bred by the Yankeeland Farm, is owned by Perretti Farms, Irving Liverman and David French. He was driven by John Campbell and trained by Chuck Sylvester, both Harness Racing Hall of Famers.

Muscles Yankee won nine of 12 starts, earning $1,258,611 during the year. His other major 1998 stakes victories included the $319,725 Yonkers Trot, $400,000 Beacon Course Trot and a $74,305 division of the Bluegrass. With $166,327 in earnings as a two-year-old, the colt's two-year racing career ended with $1,424,938 in purse money.

Muscles Yankee will retire from racing to stand stud at Perretti Farms in Cream Ridge, where Malabar Man, the 1997 New Jersey Standardbred of the Year, also stands.

Red Weasel was bred by his owner Kevin Sleeter on the family farm in Clementon, New Jersey. Trained by Kevin's father, Gerald, Red Weasel ran 12 times in 1998. The last six races were all stakes races of which he won four and ran second in the other two. He is an extremely fast horse winning the Rumson going six furlongs in the mud in 1.08.4, but versatile enough to win the Matt Scudder Stakes going a mile and seventy yards in 1.39.2, winning by four-and-three-quarter lengths.

Everyone of Red Weasel's races was in New Jersey, either at Monmouth Park or The Meadowlands. In his twelve starts in 1998 he had seven wins, four seconds and a third with earnings of just over $200,000.

Red Weasel was sired by Northern Idol, who stands on the Sleeter Farm.