01/06/2013 12:59AM

Balmoral: Oosting and Willis capture titles

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Just as they did in 2010, driver Mike Oosting and trainer Nelson Willis captured their respective titles in 2012 at Balmoral Park.

After having a six-year run of driving titles stopped by Marcus Miller in 2011, the 50-year-old Oosting returned to his perch atop the driver standings notching 229 victories compared to runner-up Miller’s 187 wins. The Beecher, IL resident also posted 229 second place finishes and 204 third place finishes from 1,430 trips postward 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, Oosting driven horses have now racked up 5,142 victories while amassing more than $32,000,000 in purse earnings.

The 69-year-old Willis who currently trains 58-head is showing no signs of slowing down with age, capturing his second title in the last three years as he easily outdistanced runner-up Perry Smith by a 92-65 margin. Last year’s winner R. “Bob” 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.”