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June 13, 2023    
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330    

Jeff Wolfe
P: (609) 913-6559
C: (609) 433-1785


Others Also Awarded At 66th Annual Celebration to Mark Month of the Horse

(TRENTON) - The 2023 Governor’s Award for Horseperson of the Year was awarded to the Wunderlich family for its involvement and service to the equine industry over the last several decades. The Wunderlich family accepted the award at the 66th Annual New Jersey Breeders Awards Celebration at the Horse Park of New Jersey to mark the Month of the Horse in the state.

“The Wunderlich family has been very active in many facets of the New Jersey equine industry for generations,” NJDA Secretary Douglas H. Fisher said. “Their passion, dedication and service make them truly deserving of this honor.”

The Wunderlich Family’s involvement in the equine industry has spanned more than 50 years, including three generations. They own and operate a successful training business, and have spent countless hours volunteering in many locations across the state and country.

Since 2008 Amy, Emily and Lori have worked to build Amy Wunderlich Performance Horses into a successful lesson, training, and breeding facility in Sussex County. They have coached and trained over 40 National and World Appaloosa Champions. They teach more than 70 lessons weekly and have started more than 700 students with their innovative Mommy, Horsey and Me program, which has provided many families hands-on experience, especially throughout the  COVID-19 pandemic.

Lori Wunderlich has been a 4-H leader in Sussex County for over 35 years, while Amy and Emily have been leaders for the past 20 years. The family has been involved at all levels of the 4-H program from local club events, officiating at state events, coordinating various contests and competitions, and acting as national team coaches and assistants. Emily currently is a program assistant with the state 4-H equine program. In addition, Lori has been a director of the Garden State Appaloosa Association since 1988 and is currently a National Director for the Appaloosa Horse Club. She has served as the National President of the Club since 2020.

Other family members not directly related to the equine industry but integral parts to this successful family include Dan Gurick (Amy’s husband), Travis Vail (Emily’s husband), John Wunderlich, and Daniel Wunderlich. Daniel served for 14 years as a director of the Horse Park of New Jersey, and chairman of the Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event for three years.

The third generation of Ryan and Nathan Gurick, and Mason and Wyatt Vail have started to follow in the footsteps with daily chores on the farm and an introduction to the show ring where they have already amassed year end awards in New Jersey and nationally.

Other awards presented were:

 Secretary of Agriculture Awards for New Jersey Standardbred Horse of the Year: Special Way – The three-year-old trotting mare by Walner and out of the Special Hill, by Muscle Hill, raced nine times in 2022 and won seven times. Her two-year old record was 1:52 with earnings of $697,475.  In 2023, she has won each of her two starts. She is owned by Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, and Al Libfeld. 

New Jersey Sire Stakes Premier Horse of the Year, and Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey Horse of the Year: Oh Well – The three-year old trotter by Muscle Hill is out of Fine Tuned Lady by Cantab Hall. Bred by Concord Stud Farm of Cream Ridge, N.J. Oh Well raced eight times as a two-year old, earning $740,380 and had a two-year-old record of 1:53.1. She is owned by the SRF Stable of Lighthouse Point Florida. 

Secretary of Agriculture Award for New Jersey Thoroughbred Horse of the Year: He’spuregold – Owned by John Bowers Jr., He’spuregold won two stakes races in 2022. The bay four-year-old won the $85,000 Irish War Cry Handicap going 1 mile on the turf at Monmouth Park for the second consecutive year. The son of Vancouver (Aus) out of the Smart Strike mare, Smart N Classy, followed his Irish War Cry with a resounding win in the $125,000 Charles J. Hesse III Handicap at Monmouth Park. Trained by Kelly J. Breen, He’spuregold finished 2022 with $199,000 in earnings.
Breeder of the Year: Dr. Seven Dey III, Heritage Hill Farm –
The farm bred the winners of over $3.3 million in 2022, ranking 11th overall in North America. Top performers included BYTHEMISSAL ($1,168,925), who won the 2022 Little Brown Jug, Adios and the Millstein Memorial in a world record equaling 1:48.4h; NIKI HILL ($1,318,452), The Dan Patch Award winning two-year old last year, came back and was a major stakes winner in 2022; EARTHWINDFIRE ($321,4840 and GOTTHEGREENLIGHT ($573,497) were top performers on the New York Sires Stakes circuit as well as the Gran Circuit. Heritage Hill Farm is in Monmouth County, spans 500 acres and has been a stalwart in New Jersey for approximately 60 years.

Horse Park of NJ Volunteer of the Year: Nancy Frenick – She has been a ring steward, jump starter, jump judge, dressage scribe, and show assistant for many horse show organizations. Since the Horse Park of New Jersey opened in 1987, she has shown there, sponsored show classes, volunteered in many capacities, donated needed items, and donated her professional services for many events. Nancy is currently the Volunteer Sponsorship Coordinator for the Horse Park and is working towards obtaining corporate sponsors.

New Jersey Youth Horseperson of the Year, Agriculture Achievement Award Winner: Gianna Tanzi – A sophomore at Howell High School, she competes on the 4-H circuit and at open dressage shows. She also volunteers at a riding program for people with disabilities.

Bell Scholarship: Alejandra (Sasha) Burns – The $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.

Sasha’s passion for horses began at a young age when her family relocated to a small town in the countryside of Spain, where, with no prior exposure to horses, they took on three Andalusians and a Dartmoor pony. As a teenager, she began teaching riding lessons with her Dartmoor pony to young children and as she got older her dream of pursuing a career in equine veterinary medicine began to solidify. Sasha’s academic career at Rutgers University includes doing research work with Dr. Carey Williams and Dr. Karyn Malinowski. In addition to her academic curriculum, Sasha has worked at Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center (MAEMC) as both a surgical and treatment technician. She hopes to get her a degree in veterinary medicine and pursue an equine surgical residency. Additionally, Sasha aspires to create a non-profit equine rescue organization, combining her knowledge of veterinary medicine and equine-assisted therapy to better assist horses and people.

Superior Achievement Awards: Entirely Smooth Movin and Sonnys Music Man – Entirely Smooth Movin is a 12- year-old Paint owned by Ava Stanker of Bridgeton, N.J. His accomplishments include Novice Youth Register of Merit (ROM), Western Horsemanship, APHA Youth Champion, Youth 13 & Under Zone 7 5th Place, Youth ROM Hunt Seat Equitation, Superior Youth Horse Award Halter, Youth ROM Showmanship, Zone 7th Champion Walk Trot, and Garden State Paint Horse High Point Youth. Sonnys Music Man, a 17-year-old Paint is owned by Dawn Edmonds. In 2021, Sonny received numerous awards in Ranch Pleasure, Youth Color, and other classes.

New Jersey Agricultural Achievement Award: Ashley Presgraves – The Millville resident is a senior at

Our Lady of Mercy Academy and is an active member in Cumberland County 4-H. The award includes a $500 scholarship.


To learn more about the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, find us on Facebook at and or Twitter @NJDA and @JerseyFreshNJDA.