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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
has published numerous articles in national publications,
including "Epidemiologic Studies of Lyme Disease
in Horses and their Public Health Significance."
is the father of three, all of whom are involved
with the family business, and the grandfather of
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Weasel was sired by Northern Idol, who stands on
the Sleeter Farm.