Centralia Breeder’s Thoroughbred Earns ‘Horse of the Year’ Distinction


Farm life is full of highs and lows: births, deaths, earnings, loss, fruits and labor.

Petra Lewin, of Centralia, has toiled away on her Prather Road farm since 1972.

Her biggest high to date came this last March, when a racehorse she bred, Blazingbellablu, was honored in Emerald Downs with the distinction of “Horse of the Year” by the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association for 2021.

“We’re very proud of her. She won $152,000-plus last year and was voted 3-year-old filly of the year and overall 3-year-old. … The last time a 3-year-old filly won was in 2000,” Lewin said. “And now our horse won; a 3-year-old filly won a championship. And she grew up here on Michigan Hill in Centralia, which is really the most odd thing.”

For Lewin and Blazingbellablu’s trainer, Charlie Essex, of Auburn, the title is no small feat.

Lewin has been breeding horses for decades and said the honor was the highlight of her career. Thoroughbred horse records are kept throughout the year, and Blazingbellablu’s 2021 Horse of the Year title means she was the biggest earner in the state for race horses. Earnings from those wins are split between the trainer, breeder and jockey.

The horse will now advance to a national competition for the title. Lewin said she wouldn’t win, but she’s amazed they even got this far.

“It validates that hard work and persistence does pay off, getting her to where she is. She’s a very sweet horse,” Lewin said. “Hard work does pay off.”

Lewin was raised in Salt Lake City and attended the University of Utah before winding up in Centralia on 20 acres with a run-down barn and house that she rebuilt for decades. 

She credits her partner, Robert Brown, for being supportive in all her efforts as a farmer and local realtor.

Another passion of Lewin’s is three-day eventing with horses. Eventing is, as Lewin put it, like an Olympic triathlon for horses. 

The first day, horses and riders perform dressage to display obedience. The second day, the horse’s endurance is tested. The final day is a combination of both elements. 

Lewin said eventing was originally created to test whether a horse was ready for war. In the U.S. Eventing Association’s area seven, encompassing Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska, Lewin was once the three-day eventing champion.

“I’m a working person,” Lewin said.