Hoof Beats Magazine

DEC 2017

Official magazine of the U.S. Trotting Association, covering harness racing and the Standardbred horse.

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ife is sweet for Amber Sawyer of Sawyer Stables in Burnett, Wis.—and not because she also works in a candy store. Her father, Dean, is celebrating his 50th year as an owner and trainer. Her 12-year-old son, Paul, is working in the barn and keeping up the family tradition. But the sweetest moment for Sawyer this past season occurred Sept. 2 at the Walworth County Fair in Elkhorn, Wis., when their 15-year-old black gelding, Mr Orchard Street, surged to a 2:06.2 vic- tory for driver Larry Feilbach, who re- turned to the sulky after a 28-year hiatus. Co-owned by Dean, Amber, and Paul, Mr Orchard Street is the oldest horse to have raced in the U.S. this year, accord- ing to USTA records. That distinction prompted Milwaukee Public Television to feature Mr Orchard Street and Amber, Dean, and Paul, scheduled for airing in February 2018. "It's pretty rare when a horse is three years older than one of its owners," said Amber. USTA rules had once stipulated that a horse could not race past age 14, but in 2007, the rules were amended so that horses 15 years old and over, if healthy, can compete at fairs or in non-betting races. This year, Mr Orchard Street, by Orchard Street out of the Abercrombie mare Capriati, posted one win, three sec- onds, and three thirds in 12 starts, good for $1,184 in earnings and $197,563 to- tal over a 14-year career. The purse at Elkhorn was $800 from which the Sawyers took home $400, but the joy of watching their horse cross the finish line ahead of younger horses was, as they say, priceless. "After he had won, a couple had come over to pat him and I asked, 'Can I help you?'" Amber said. "The gentleman said he remembered betting on him years ago when he was racing in Illinois, made a lot of money on him and couldn't believe Mr Orchard Street was still racing." Amber's father, who founded the fam- ily racing stable on 15 acres of property that includes a three-eighths-mile track, said they take in some horses with a goal of letting them finish their careers. "Then we try to find a good home for them," he said. Feilbach, 59, a third-generation horse- man from Juneau, Wis., is a building and grounds superintendent for the local L Mr Orchard Street PROFILE 22 HOOF BEATS DECEMBER 2017 Mr Longevity 15-year-old pacer wins for driver who had 28 years between starts by Marvin Pave PHOTOS COURTESY OF AMBER SAWYER VETERANS: Left: Back from a lengthy driving hiatus, Larry Feilbach steered Mr Orchard Street to his sole win this year at the Walworth County Fair in Elkhorn, Wis., in September. Below: The gelding's co-owners represent three generations: Dean Sawyer (right); his daughter, Amber; and Amber's son, Paul—who, at 12, is three years younger than Mr Orchard Street himself.

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