Walnridge Farm NJ Breeder of the Year
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"My father [David Meirs II, VMD], Steve Dey, Charlie Smith and Anthony Abbatiello were fundamental in starting the New Jersey Sire Stakes program and the construction of the Meadowlands Racetrack,” he added. "It was early in the 1970s when open space was important and the state was encouraging the preservation of green pastures. Our first stallion was Peerswick, a horse from New Zealand. We paid $1,000 for him in 1973. We still have his stall plaque. He was the first horse to pace in two minutes in New Jersey.”
The Walns, the origins of the Walnridge name, were English Quakers who arrived in Philadelphia in 1682, according to farm history. Their farm in Upper Freehold Township, now part of the Monmouth County Park System, was acquired in 1774. In 1830, Nicholas Waln purchased the property near Hornerstown for his son Richard, and this became Walnridge Farm.
Dancinwiththestarzzz, He's Gorgeous, Federal Flex and Hes A Demon are among those foals recently born and raised at Walnridge.
Dr. David Meirs II, 83, retired from veterinary practice but is still involved with farm activities and "keeps an eye on me,” noted his son. "My father is my biggest advocate and supporter.”
In 1982, Richard Meirs earned his VMD at the University of Pennsylvania and returned to the family clinic. He and his wife, Sherri, have three children. Hailey, nearly 21, is a special education major at Coastal Carolina University; Casey, 27, has her own broodmare, and Cory, 24, is in his final pre-vet year at the University of Vermont.
"This farm will stay in our family,” said Rich Meirs. "We are dedicated to New Jersey and hope to keep good things happening here.”
For tickets to the awards luncheon [$35 per person], contact the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Markets & Development, Horse Industry, PO Box 330, Trenton, NJ 08625 or call at 609-984-4389. Reservations must be made before January 17. (Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey)