TRENTON, N.J. — The 2016 Governor’s Award for Horseperson of the Year was awarded to Estella Almeida, who has been a committed 4-H volunteer on the county, state, national and international level for 36 years. New Jersey Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Monique Purcell presented Almeida, of Eatontown, with the award on Jan. 29 at the annual Breeders’ Luncheon in Eastampton.
“Estella is an extremely committed and knowledgeable mentor who has educated youth in New Jersey with equine activities and helped them build self-confidence through those activities,” said Assistant Secretary Purcell. “She is a dedicated volunteer who has given of herself countless hours by teaching, coaching and leading, making a positive impact on thousands of youth over the years. She embodies the core of character for youth to emulate. She is very deserving of the Governor’s Award for Horseperson of the Year.”
Almeida began as a 4-H horse club leader, has also volunteered to chaperone state delegations to National 4-H events, serves on county and state advisory councils and plans county, state and national 4-H events.
“It’s not about the project, it’s about the kids,” Almeida said. She embodies the core of character for youth to emulate. She contributes to her county 4-H program as a mentor and leader and supports the state 4-H program, in equine and as a chaperone to Citizenship Washington Focus and the International Japanese Exchange. Almeida was on the planning committee when New Jersey hosted the Northeast Regional 4-H Leaders’ Forum.
For more than 30 years, she has served as the coordinator for the Monmouth County and Tri-County 4-H Horse Shows. She has been chair of the New Jersey 4-H Horse Project Advisory Council as well as Vice Chair and Secretary. She has chaired the State 4-H Horse Show for 25 years and served as the New Jersey 4-H Equine Presentations coach for years prior to becoming a member of the of the Eastern Regional National Round Up Equine Presentations Planning Committee 10 years ago.
The annual Breeders’ Luncheon celebrated the state’s best in the equine field in 2016. Other awards presented at this event were:
Secretary of Agriculture Award for New Jersey Thoroughbred Horse of the Year: Chublicious. Bred in New Jersey by Joe Don Farm, Inc., Chublicious finished 2016 with $149,414 in earnings. He has won eight of 18 career starts good for earnings of $318,194. Chublicious, a bay 6-year-old, started his championship campaign winning the $60,000 John J. Reilly Handicap against fellow New Jersey-breds May 28 at Monmouth Park. The son of New Jersey stallion, Hey Chub, won his second consecutive start at Monmouth Park in the $70,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes against a talented field of open company runners in an impressive time of 1:08.3 for six furlongs.
Secretary of Agriculture Award for New Jersey Standardbred Horse of the Year: Marion Marauder. Marion Marauder is one of only nine trotters in the history of harness racing to win the coveted Triple Crown. The son of Muscle Hill – Spellbound Hanover finished his 3-year-old campaign with a lifetime mark of 1:51.3. Marion Marauder earned 10 wins and three seconds in 15 starts, banking nearly $1.5 million toward a career total of $1,766,518 for the ownership of Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin W. Keeling. The Paula Wellwood trainee was regularly driven by Scott Zeron. In addition to his Triple Crown feats of the $1 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands, the $500,000 Yonkers Trot at Yonkers and the $431,000 Kentucky Futurity at the Red Mile, he also won the $209,040 Goodtimes at Mohawk and the $153,250 Stanley Dancer at the Meadowlands.
Secretary of Agriculture Award for New Jersey Sire Stakes—Premier Horse of the Year: Every Way Out. Every Way Out won six of the seven New Jersey-restricted races that he entered, including the finals of the Sire Stakes’ Premier Division at the Meadowlands and the Standardbred Development Fund at Freehold Raceway. Along the way, the colt by If I Can Dream out of Every Play was also victorious in the Lou Babic Memorial Pace and the New Jersey Futurity. Regular driver Tim Tetrick handled Every Way Out in all of his victories with the exception of the Standardbred Development Fund final where he was steered by Joe Bongiorno. Among his other wins on the season were the Arden Stakes at The Meadows and the Geers Stake, where he took his seasonal mark of 1:51.2f, and Reynolds Stakes both at Tioga Downs. A winner of $181,805 on the year, Every Way Out was purchased just prior to his win in the Premier Division Final by Howard A. Taylor, Abraham N. Basen, Edwin J. Gold and Thomas A. Lazzaro. After the purchase, Dylan Davis assumed the training duties from Aaron Lambert. The colt was bred by Bulletproof Enterprises of Oley, Pennsylvania.
New Jersey Equestrian of the Year: Jamie Leuenberger, Milford – A 19-year-old The College of New Jersey Jersey sophomore, Leuenberger has been riding for 14 years and began riding competitively in 2010. She has participated in many eventing and dressage competitions, finishing in the top 10 in the nation several times.
New Jersey Agricultural Achievement Award: Joanna Ricci, Allentown — $500 Scholarship. An 18-year-old Allentown High School senior, Joanna is also a graduate of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. She has competed extensively in both English and Western events for two years and has a stack of blue ribbons to show for her work. Joanna is president of the Allentown High School FFA and a member of the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization. Contestants must be a New Jersey resident and a high school senior who is planning on pursuing a career in the agriculture field and/or sciences.
Sara Dubinin Scholarship: Nikayla Hetzell, Pittsgrove — $1,000 scholarship. Nikayla is a senior at Schalick High School. She was also the 2015 Cumberland County 4-H Equestrian of the Year winner. This scholarship is presented annually in memory of Sara Dubinin to help 4-H or FFA members pursue their equine activities. Sara, a Sayreville resident, graduated from Cardinal McCarrick High School in South Amboy in 2006. The 19-year-old was attending Middlesex County College when she succumbed to injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident in September of 2007.
Bell Scholarship: Elena Rizzo, Wyckoff — $1,000 scholarship is presented by the Equine Advisory Board and named for Ernest C. Bell, a horse breeder and one of the founders of the Equine Advisory Board. Elena, who is from Bergen County and a senior at Rutgers University, is majoring in the pre-veterinarian program and hopes to become a large animal/equine veterinarian.
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture