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Canada's O'Brien finalists announced

December 20, 2017
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On Wednesday, Dec. 20, Standardbred Canada announced the finalists for the 2017 O'Brien Awards, which honor Canada's best in harness racing over the past season. The winners will be announced at the annual O'Brien Awards Black Tie Gala on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale hotel in Mississauga, Ont.

This will mark the 29th edition of the O'Brien Awards, named in honor of the late Joe O'Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Seven past O'Brien Award winners are looking to add to their trophy collections and are either defending titles or are nominated in a new division. Past winners include: McWicked, Ariana G, Hannelore Hanover, Marc Campbell, Richard Moreau, Louis-Philippe Roy and the partnership of Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.

In the driver of the year category, Doug McNair and Louis-Philippe Roy are the two finalists.

McNair, a resident of Guelph, Ont., was a finalist for this award in 2013. He tops the charts in earnings for drivers in Canada with almost $5.9 million in purse money, while driving 315 winners postward. He's enjoying a career year and is the regular driver for O'Brien Award finalists, Stay Hungry, Bettors Up, The Joy Luck Club, and Sandbetweenurtoes.
 
Louis-Philippe Roy, of Mont-Joli, Que., is also having a career year. Having won the Future Star O'Brien Award for 2016, Roy has become a regular driver on the Woodbine Entertainment Group Circuit and currently sits in second for wins in Canada with 371 trips to the winner's circle to his credit while driving horses to $5.6 million in purse earnings.
 
Richard Moreau is looking to add to his trophy collection with another O'Brien Award in the Trainer of the Year category and is up against fellow nominee Gregg McNair, who is looking to clinch his first national title.
 
Richard Moreau, of Puslinch, Ont., is the defending Trainer of the Year and is looking to take home his fifth consecutive O'Brien bronze. Moreau, who trains O'Brien finalist Sandbetweenurtoes, leads all Canadian trainers in the wins column with 269 wins to his credit and more than $3.6 million in earnings.
 
Gregg McNair, of Guelph, Ont., is enjoying a productive 2017 campaign with 63 winners and more than $1.9 million in purse earnings in Canada. McNair trains and co-owns O'Brien finalist The Joy Luck Club.

Marc Campbell of Winsloe, P.E.I. is a finalist for the O'Brien Award of Horsemanship along with Guy Gagnon of Gatineau, Que..

Campbell, who won this award in 2012, is enjoying a career season in the sulky, as he has recorded 245 wins and more than $574,000 in purse earnings. On the training side, Campbell has 126 victories and almost $370,000 in earnings this season. Campbell topped the charts for training and driving at both Red Shores properties –- Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside.

Guy Gagnon is a regular trainer-driver at Hippodrome 3R and Rideau Carleton Raceway, where he topped the driver's standings for wins in 2017. To date this year, Gagnon has driven 199 winners and horses to earnings of almost $900,000. On the training side, he's sent 77 winners postward and his stable has earned in excess of $334,000.

Two Shadow Play fillies, Kendall Seelster and Percy Bluechip, are the nominees in the two-year-old pacing filly division.
 
Kendall Seelster hit the board in 10 of her 11 season starts with four wins and more than $453,000 in purse earnings. The two-time Ontario Sires Stakes Gold winner took a mark of 1:51.1 in her commanding victory in a division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack.

Percy Bluechip, co-owned and conditioned by Dr. Ian Moore, who also managed her sire, scored five wins in nine races on the season and racked up more than $440,000 in earnings. In addition to four wins in Ontario Sires Stakes events, including the season-ending Super Final, the talented filly also posted a wire-to-wire victory in the Eternal Camnation at Mohawk Racetrack.

Somebeachsomewhere colts Pedro Hanover and Stay Hungry are finalists in the two-year-old pacing colt division.

Pedro Hanover won five races in eight starts and almost $350,000 in earnings. He took a mark of 1:51 in the $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Final at The Meadows, his richest payday of the season.

Stay Hungry won six of nine races and bankrolled in excess of $557,000 during a season that saw him score wins in a division of the Champlain Stakes, and an elimination of the Metro at Mohawk Racetrack. His crowning moment came in a sweep of the Breeders Crown at Hoosier Park where he took a nose victory in his elimination and came back one week later to score a neck victory in the final.

Bettors Up and The Joy Luck Club are competing for O'Brien honours in the sophomore pacing filly category.

The Bettors Delight filly, Bettors Up, put together an outstanding season, finishing first or second in ten of her 17 races while adding more than a half million dollars to her bankroll. She scored a career best 1:49.4 effort at Mohawk Racetrack in the Fan Hanover Final.

The Joy Luck Club is the other finalist in this category on the strength of a productive campaign that included 14 victories and more than $333,000 in earnings for the Camluck filly. Her season culminated with the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final victory at Mohawk Racetrack in October.

Classic Pro and Mateo earned nominations in the three-year-old pacing colt division.

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