Standardbred Canada announced the winners for the 2012 O'Brien Awards, which honor Canada's best in harness racing over the past season, on Saturday night. The annual Black Tie Gala was held at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont.
The awards are named in honor of the late Joe O'Brien, an outstanding horseman and a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
It was a spectacular night for Casie Coleman, 32, of Cambridge, Ont. She stole the show, taking home four O'Brien Awards for herself and her connections. Coleman secured her fifth trophy as Canada's Trainer of the Year. In addition, two horses that she trained, one of which she shares ownership in, emerged winners in their categories. Older pacing horse Betterthancheddar won an O'Brien trophy, as did Michaels Power in the Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt division. And to put the icing on the cake, Michael's Power was also voted Canada's Horse of the Year.
The 2012 season was an outstanding one for Coleman, as she trained 223 winners with her stable earning in excess of $6.8 million in purse money. On Aug. 3, 2012, at the age of 32 years old, Coleman became the youngest trainer in harness racing history to surpass the $40 million career earnings mark with a pair of wins just minutes apart in the first races at Mohawk Racetrack and Yonkers Raceway.
It was also a tremendous evening for harness racing in Quebec as three O'Brien Award winners have connections to la belle province.
Sylvain Filion, 43, a native of Saint-Andre-D'Argenteuil, Que., who now resides in Milton, Ont., took home his first O'Brien trophy as Canada's Driver of the Year following an exceptional season that included 434 wins and a personal best $8.6 million in purse earnings. Filion was the regular driver for Wheeling N Dealin, voted Canada's 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year, and topped the charts for drivers in the Ontario Sires Stakes last year. Hailing from one of the most accomplished harness racing families, some of Filion's 2012 accomplishments include victories in the Breeders Crown with the undefeated juvenile trotting colt Wheeling N Dealin, the Golden Girls with Rebeka Bayama, the Masters Stakes with Sparky Mark, and numerous Ontario Sires Stakes events with Prestidigitator. He teamed up with Panther Hanover for wins in the Simcoe Stakes and New Jersey Classic, and guided Toocool Forschool to a Champlain Stakes victory. He also scored two Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final victories with Prestidigitator and Smarty Pants which helped to secure him the Lampman Cup as the leading driver in the Ontario Sires Stakes program for 2012.
Marc Campbell, 28, of Winsloe, PEI, took home the hardware for the O'Brien Award of Horsemanship. Campbell enjoyed a career year in 2012, driving 186 winners and horses to $467,980 in purse earnings. He also had a productive year on the training side, conditioning 48 winners and horses to more than $219,000 in earnings. Campbell won the annual E.F. Acorn Memorial Driver's Championship held at Red Shores Charlottetown and is the trainer-driver of Malabrigo, who was the runner-up in the 3-Year- Old Filly Pacer category following a perfect sophomore campaign.
I Luv The Nitelife was voted 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year. She finished the season with a record of 4-4-1 from 10 races and bankrolled $682,574 in earnings. The Rocknroll Hanover filly paced to a world record 1:50.1 in an elimination of the She's A Great Lady at Mohawk Racetrack. Her other stakes wins included the Shes A Great Lady final, the Eternal Camnation and a division of the Bluegrass Stakes.
Captaintreacherous was crowned Canada's 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year. "The Captain” started his stakes campaign with an amazing track record victory in the Woodrow Wilson at The Meadowlands in 1:49.3. On Canadian soil he triumphed in the Nassagaweya, a Metro elimination, the $1 million Metro final in a stakes-record equalling 1:49.2, and a Breeders Crown elimination.
The son of new superstar sire Somebeachsomewhere also added victories in the Bluegrass and International Stallion Stakes in Lexington to his impressive credentials. His phenomenal 2-year-old campaign included $911,277 in earnings and eight wins, with four victories in 1:50 or better — a record never before achieved by a 2 year old.
American Jewel took home her second consecutive O'Brien trophy, this time as 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year. The daughter of American Ideal enjoyed another stellar season, which included a record of 9-4-2 in 16 starts and earnings of more than $1.1 million. She captured such prestigious events as the Fan Hanover where she set a world record of 1:48.2, the Lynch Memorial, Simcoe Stake, Bluegrass, Breeders Crown and American National. Not bad for a filly that suffered a fractured sesamoid at the end of last season.
Michael's Power, owned and bred by Jeffrey Snyder of New York, N.Y., was voted 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year and Canada's Horse of the Year. A winner of 14 starts in 20 outings andmore than $1.4 million last season, Michael's Power gave trainer Casie Coleman and driver Scott Zeron their first Little Brown Jug victory. The Camluck colt also etched his name in the Ontario Sires Stakes record books by virtue of his lifetime best 1:48.1 victory in the OSS Super Final. His season also included wins in the Confederation Cup, a division of the Somebeachsomewhere, Upper Canada Cup, Canadian Breeders Championship, and three OSS Gold final titles.
Anndrovette successfully defended her title as Canada's Older Pacing Mare of the Year. A winner of seven of 23 races and more than $696,000, the highlight of her 2012 season was a dazzling 1:48.1 world record performance in the Roses Are Red Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack. She also racked up victories in three legs of the Blue Chip, the Overbid Series final, an elimination of the Milton Stakes and the Breeders Crown.
Millionaire Betterthancheddar‘s seamless transition from the sophomore class to the older pacing ranks resulted in an O'Brien trophy for the popular pacer. Winning nine of 11 races, he took a career mark of 1:48, equalling the world record in the Ben Franklin at Pocono Downs. He added wins in the Des Smith, Bobby Quillen and Canadian Pacing Derby elimination to his resume.
Bee A Magician was voted Canada's 2-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year. The daughter of Hall of Fame sire Kadabra had a profitable season with 10 wins, one second and one third in 13 starts. The Ontario Sires Stakes divisional leader banked $757,138 in earnings and was victorious in the elimination and final of the Peaceful Way, the Champlain and the OSS Super Final.
Canada's 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year, Wheeling N Dealin, was invincible in nine starts, earning $683,544 in purse money. His victories included three legs of the Bridger Trotting Series, the Champlain, the William Wellwood elimination and final, and an elimination and final of the Breeders Crown.
Check Me Out won her second consecutive O'Brien trophy. The winner in the 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly category scored 11 wins in 15 races and more than $960,000 with numerous stakes wins including a world record 1:51.2 effort in the Bluegrass Stake at The Red Mile. The Donato Hanover filly took a Canadian record in the Elegantimage and also knocked off a 1:51.3 world record mile on a five-eighths mile track in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship.
Winning an O'Brien trophy as Canada's Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year was a perfect ending to Intimidate's Cinderella season that saw him trot from relative obscurity into the harness racing record books. From 17 starts in his 3-year-old campaign, he recorded 13 wins, three second-place finishes and finished withmore than$415,000 in purse earnings. The son of Justice Hall ended the season with five straight wins highlighted by his victories in the elimination and final of the Breeders Crown Championship.
Frenchfrysnvinegar secured her second consecutive O'Brien trophy as Canada's Older Trotting Mare. In 2012 she continued to deliver top notch performances, winning eight races andmore than$430,000. She took the Masters at Georgian Downs, the Miss Versatility final at Delaware and posted a lifetime best 1:52 in the Allerage Mares Trot. She also eclipsed the $1 million mark in lifetime earnings.
Stablemate Mister Herbie's name was added to the list of O'Brien Award Champion Older Trotters. His season included a stakes record 1:51.3 in the Glorys Comet Trotting Series Final at Woodbine, where he defeated the great San Pail by a nose. Another impressive effort of the 2012 season was a Canadian record mile of 1:50.4 in the Maple Leaf Trot. He also added wins in the Cutler and the Frank Ryan Memorial and was the runner-up in the Nat Ray, the Allerage and Breeders Crown.
Al McIntosh Holdings Inc., of Leamington, Ontario and Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. of Windsor, Ontario took home the hardware for the Armstrong Breeder of the Year Award. Robert McIntosh Stables were winners of this award in 2007 and 2010.
Al McIntosh Holdings Inc. and Robert McIntosh Stables Inc. were near the top of the charts for Canadian breeders in 2012. They bred 28 starters that earnedmore than$2.5 million in purse money. O'Brien finalist Thinking Out Loud, Dress The Part, Dapper Dude and In Commando were all $100,000-plus earners in 2012 bred by the McIntoshs.
Thinking Out Loud led their starters, establishing himself as one of the very best in his division over the course of his brilliant $1.2 million season, which included a stakes record victory in the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup, while stablemate Dapper Dude finished third. (SC)