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Oosting, Willis, Affrunti Honored (01/06/13)
Posted Sunday January 6, 2013
By Mike Paradise
Mike Oosting, Nelson Willis and Angie Affrunti were honored this weekend for winning their respective 2012 titles at Balmoral and Maywood Parks.
Nelson’s leading trainer title at Balmoral Park was the second for the 69-year-old Kentucky native. “Spider” also was the Crete track’s top trainer in 2010.
“It’s a great honor to once again be the top trainer here at Balmoral,” said 69-year-old Willis. “It’s a total team effort that includes second trainers I have working for me and all the other help we have in the barn.
“I also have to recognize the drivers who drove my horses and the owners who allow me to train for them.”
Willis started 860 horses in Illinois and Indiana and had 163 firsts, 142 seconds and 110 thirds, with his horses pulling down $1,451,097. He enters 2013 with 1,188 winners as a trainer and his horses have earned over $11.5 million.
Winning the Maywood trainer’s crown was Angie’s first. The Joliet native had a banner 2012 season with 128 winners and her horses earned $550,201.
“I’m really overwhelmed and very excited about winning this title,” said Affrunti. “My brother Darin, who was disabled after falling from a horse last winter, has been my inspiration.
“My goal from the start was to show him that when you work hard and put your mind to something good things can happen and it worked out wonderfully. He’s as excited about this as I am and we plan on having him come into town if possible for the awards banquet in February.”
Oosting’s Maywood driving title was his first at the half-mile facility while his Balmoral crown was Mike’s seventh in an eight year span there.
The 50-year-old Michigan native won every year from 2005 through 2010 before Marcus Miller ended the streak with the 2011 Balmoral crown when the 23-year-old also took the Maywood’s title.
Oosting and Miller became the first drivers to win at both local tracks since Tony Morgan did it in 2003. Tony also did it in 2002 and in 1999.
“I got lucky and stayed healthy in 2012,” said Oosting. “It’s nice to win one at Maywood.
“This is the first time that I’ve pretty much spent the entire year coming up to Maywood to drive on both nights of racing and it certainly paid off. I plan on continuing to do this and hopefully if we can get some legislative help to really make the drive there a profitable one.”
Oosting finished 2012 in ninth place throughout all of North America with 464 dash winners. It was the seventh time Mike had over 4000 winners in a single year. He now has gone 11 consecutive years with over $1 million in money won.
Oosting started 2013 with 5,140 career winners and money won at over $32 million.
Maywood Park Photo