Ann Curran receives 2007 Cam Fella Award
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Standardbred Canada is pleased to announce that Ottawa-area horsewoman Ann Curran, creator and co-ordinator of the Mildred Williams International Women’s Driving Series, has been voted the 2007 recipient of the Cam Fella Award.
The Cam Fella Award will be presented to Ms. Curran at the annual O\'Brien Awards banquet on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, ON.
Named in honor of the world class Standardbred horse, Cam Fella, the award recognizes extreme recent meritorious service to the Canadian harness racing industry.
The Mildred Williams International Women’s Driving Series is designed to promote the sport of harness racing, foster positive press, market to the missing demographic of young women and provide young women with the opportunity to participate and raise money for women- related charities as well as honor a female pioneer (Mildred Williams) in the sport.
“I waited 22 years for someone to try this, so I decided to try it myself. When trying to think of a name, someone asked ‘who’s the pioneer of women harness racers?’ I said ‘Mildred Williams,’ explained Curran about the concept development.
Williams was one of the first women drivers in Canada and in the 1970s had more than 400 lifetime wins. She also lobbied both the United States Trotting Association and the Canadian Trotting Association to obtain her driving license and allow female drivers to be licensed at pari-mutuel tracks. Williams is now 91 years old and resides in Curran, Ont. and has attended numerous races in the series in both years.
Curran contacted racetracks to host series legs and co-ordinated the participation of the women drivers. Not only did she take full responsibility for organizing and promoting the series, she herself was also a competitor.
The series kicked off on June 27, 2006 at the Hippodrome de Trois–Rivieres (now known as Sulky Trois Rivieres) and events were also hosted at several tracks in Ontario and Quebec. Drivers in the series were awarded points throughout the year based on their finish position. Joey Ayotte won the inaugural edition of the series.
In 2007, the schedule expanded from 11 tracks to 37 venues to include numerous tracks in the U.S. as well. A total of 73 female drivers made at least one start in the Mildred Williams International Women’s Driving Series in 2007 with Ann Karin Larsen of Norwood, Ont., emerging as the winner.
The major difference in the 2007 series was that the racetracks were asked to select a charity and all of the drivers participating in the series agreed to donate the majority of their earnings to that charity. Over $92,000 was raised from the 2007 Mildred Williams International Driving Series for a variety of charities including Breast Cancer Research.
Standardbred Canada established the Cam Fella Award in 1997 and fittingly its namesake was the first recipient acknowledging Cam\'s unparalleled contributions to the sport of harness racing. Past winners of the Cam Fella Award include the Honorable Michael D. Harris, former Premier of the Province of Ontario (2000), Minister Mitchell Murphy, Provincial Treasurer for the Province of Prince Edward Island and formerly the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry (2003), Armstrong Bros. Farms (2004) Dr. David C. Reid, Chair of Horse Racing Alberta (2005), and Ralph Klein, former Premier of the Province of Alberta (2006).
A national committee of 16 representing the Standardbred community vote by secret ballot to determine the Cam Fella Award winner. A winner must receive a majority of the votes.
Canadian-owned, trained and driven, Cam Fella was an outstanding racehorse in the early 1980s winning 56 races, over $2 million in purse money and two consecutive Horse Of The Year titles in North America. As a stallion, Cam sired numerous world champions and horses with earnings in excess of $106 million. Unfortunately Cam suffered from testicular cancer and in early 1997, was retired from breeding. He died in May of 2001 at the Kentucky Horse Park, where he had lived for several years and served as an outstanding ambassador of the standardbred breed.
The creation of the Cam Fella Award was the harness racing industry\'s way of ensuring that Cam\'s contribution to the sport is never forgotten. (SC)