Driver Mike Oosting and trainer Nelson Willis were named the leaders in their divisions for 2012 at Balmoral Park. This same pair had captured both crowns in 2010, too.
Oosting, 50, had captured the Balmoral driving title for six straight years until he was unseated by Marcus Miller in 2011. This past season, Oosting had 229 victories at the Crete, IL oval while Mliler had 187 triumphs. Oosting also had 229 seconds and 204 thirds from 1,430 trips behind the starting gate in 2012 with purse earnings of $1,695,879.
“I had kind of forgotten about it since Marcus won it last year but winning seven of the last eight titles here at Balmoral is a pretty nice accomplishment,” said Oosting. “I was healthy all year and except for a few short vacations to freshen up a bit I was able to keep at it from start to finish and it worked out well.”
A dominant force since arriving to drive here on a full time basis in 2002, horses Oosting has driven have racked up 5,142 victories while amassing more than $32,000,000 in purse earnings.
Trainer Willis, 69, who conditions 58 Standardbreds from his home base at the Balmoral Park stable area notched his second title in the last three years with 92 wins for the year, while trainer Perry Smith had 65 winners. Last year’s winner Robert Phillips was third with 62 wins.
“Spider” as he is affectionately known around the track sent out 562 starters at Balmoral in 2012, winning at 16.37% rate while racking up $858,858 in purse earnings.
“This is a great honor to once again be the top trainer here at Balmoral,” said Willis.“It’s a total team effort though so I have to recognize the drivers that drive my horses, the owners who allow me to train for them, the second trainers I have working for me and all the other help we have in the barn. Without the total cooperation and work ethic they all display this wouldn’t be possible.”