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On Saturday, February 2, Standardbred Canada announced the harness racing winners for the 2018 O’Brien Awards, at the 30th edition of the annual O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala held at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale hotel in Mississauga, Ont. The O’Brien Awards honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season and are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Richard Moreau of Puslinch, Ont. won his sixth consecutive title as Canada’s Trainer of the Year. He put up some incredible numbers in the 2018 season, sending 315 winners postward and training horses to more than $4.6 million in earnings, a new personal best. He was the leading trainer in both wins and earnings at Woodbine Racetrack’s final meet and at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Moreau trained O’Brien Award winner Jimmy Freight for part of the sophomore season including his victories in the Ontario Sires Stakes and Somebeachsomewhere. Other top performers from the Moreau Stable in 2018 included pacing colt Backstreet Shadow, trotting horse Big Rich, and pacing mare Witch Dali. To read the rest of this story, click here. 

Run Director, a three-year trotter owned by Tom and Elizabeth Rankin of St. Catharines, is in the running for one of the top honours in Canadian harness racing. After placing ninth in his only start as a two-year-old, the Kadabra colt hit his stride the following year under trainer Ben Baillargeon, winning six races in 17 starts and more than $400,000. Run Director finished second to Hambletonian runner-up Mets Hall in the $169,183 Simcoe Stakes, won the $225,000 Ontario Sire Stakes (OSS) Super Final and placed fourth in the $500,000 Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Rankin, who is returning to the O'Brien Awards for the second year in a row after winning with rookie trotter Alarm Director in 2018, ranked the OSS Super Final as the highlight of Run Director's racing career so far. "Leaving from post eight, he was parked every step of the race," Rankin said. "When he couldn't pass Stormont Ventnor in the stretch, (Sylvain) Filion tucked him in and I conceded to myself that we would not win the race. "But he pulled him in a few seconds, and he dug in to pull out the victory. This horse would not be denied." In addition to praising Filion, his driver, Rankin singled out Baillargeon, the trainer, for Run Director's outstanding season. "I owe my horse's success unquestionably to my trainer's mastery of taking horses and developing them so they can reach their highest echelon," he said. Established in 1989 and named for hall of fame horseman Joe O'Brien, the O'Brien Awards are presently annually by Standardbred Canada to honour the premier horses in harness racing. This year's O'Brien Awards take place Saturday in Mississauga. The St. Catharines Standard Reprinted with permission of the Weekend Tribune

On Saturday, February 3, Standardbred Canada announced the winners for the 2017 O’Brien Awards, at the 29th edition of the annual O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala held at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale hotel in Mississauga, Ont. The O’Brien Awards honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season and are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Richard Moreau, of Puslinch, Ont., was awarded his fifth consecutive O’Brien bronze in the Trainer of the Year category.  Moreau led all Canadian trainers in the wins column with 277 victories to his credit and more than $3.7 million in pure earnings. Moreau’s stable star, Sandbetweenurtoes was honoured as Older Pacing Mare of the Year. Owner Brad Grant of Milton, Ont., had a phenomenal night, taking home three O’Briens bronzes – one each for his two-year-old pacing colt, Stay Hungry, his three-year-old pacing filly Bettors Up and his pacing mare, Sandbetweenurtoes.  This was a monumental achievement for Grant who lost many horses in the tragic barn fire at Classy Lane Training Centre in January, 2016. Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ont., and Marvin Katz of Toronto, Ont., took home two O’Briens – one for Ariana G, voted the country’s top three-year-old trotting filly and one as Breeders of the Year. Dr. Ian Moore, a native of Prince Edward Island, and now a resident of Guelph, Ont.,  trains and co-owns two O’Brien winners – Percy Bluechip,  the divisional champion as Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer and Classic Pro, the Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year. Driver Doug McNair won his first O’Brien as Canada’s Driver of the Year following a career year.  McNair, a resident of Guelph, Ont., was a finalist for this award in 2013. He topped the charts in earnings for drivers in Canada last year with more than $5.9 million in purse money, and $6.5 million in earnings in North America while driving 325 winners. McNair was also the regular driver for O’Brien winners Stay Hungry, Bettors Up, and Sandbetweenurtoes. Marc Campbell of Winsloe, P.E.I. took his second O’Brien Award of Horsemanship after having a career year in 2017, which saw him top the charts for training and driving at both Red Shores properties –- Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside. Campbell, who won this award in 2012, recorded 255 wins and more than $584,000 in purse earnings as a driver.  On the training side, Campbell had 131 victories and more than $376,000 in earnings last season. Hannelore Hanover was named Canada’s Horse of the Year, and also won her second consecutive O’Brien Trophy as Older Trotting Mare. Her connections received the inaugural Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year Award.   Hannelore Hanover won 10 of 17 races last season, over $1.1 million in purse money and scored victories against male rivals in an elimination and final of the Breeders Crown Open Trot, the Allerage, and the Maple Leaf Trot. She also swept the Armbro Flight. Percy Bluechip, Canada’s Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the year is co-owned and conditioned by Dr. Ian Moore, who also managed her sire.  The Shadow Play filly 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. Stay Hungry, a son of Somebeachsomewhere won the two-year-old pacing colt division. Last season he won six of nine races and bankrolled more than $557,000 during a season that saw him score wins in a Champlain Stakes division, 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. The title of Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year went to  Bettors Up. The daughter of Bettors Delight 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. Classic Pro was the winner in the three-year-old pacing colt division. Trained and co-owned by Dr. Ian Moore, Classic Pro won four of 14 starts and earned more than $293,000 on the season. Two of those wins were in Ontario Sires Stakes events and one of those gave the Shadow Play colt his mark of 1:51. Older Pacing Mare honours went to Sandbetweenurtoes.  The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere was a model of consistency, hitting the board in 24 of her 30 starts and earning in excess of $243,000, while primarily competing in the Fillies and Mares Preferred races at Mohawk and Woodbine Racetracks. Sintra took Older Pacing Horse honours following a productive season where he won nine of 19 races and more than $617,000. The son of Mach Three captured Canada’s oldest harness stakes event, The Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack, to take home the lion’s share of the $615,000 purse. He also won a leg and the final of the Graduate Series. The outstanding trotting filly Kadabra Queen was the Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly champion.  The Kadabra filly won five of 10 races and more than $328,000 on the season. All five of her victories were in the Ontario Sires Stakes, including a win in the season-ending Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack, her final start of the season. In the two-year-old trotting colt division, the winner was Alarm Detector.  The Chapter Seven colt was almost perfect in his debut season, winning six of seven races and $276,000. Stakes victories included the Define The World and an elimination and final of the William Wellwood Memorial. Ariana G won her second consecutive O’Brien trophy, this time as Canada’s Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year.  The Muscle Hill filly won 12 of 15 races during her million-dollar season. Her major victories included the Breeders Crown, Elegantimage, the Simcoe, the Hambletonian Oaks, the Delvin Miller Memorial and the New Jersey Sire Stakes final. International Moni took the three-year-old trotting colt division after winning nine of 15 races and $620,000 in 2017.  His victories included the Carl Erskine Memorial, a Breeders Crown elimination, a Kentucky Futurity elimination, the Bluegrass, a division of the Simcoe, an elimination of the Hambletonian and a sweep of the Goodtimes. The durable Odds On Amethyst, was voted Older Trotting Horse of the Year.  The son of Muscle Hill, scored 11 wins and more than $232,000 in earnings, primarily competing in the preferred and free-for-all trotting ranks. In the Armstrong Breeder of the Year category, partners Marvin Katz of Toronto, Ont., and Al Libfeld, of Pickering, Ont., collected their second consecutive O’Brien trophy. The Katz-Libfeld partnership has evolved into one of harness racing's most respected breeding enterprises. From the ten horses bred by this partnership and that raced in 2017, there were 27 wins and earnings of more than $1.5 million. Their top horse was O’Brien finalist Ariana G, a winner of more than $1.1 million. Brett MacDonald of Manotick, Ont., was named Future Star winner. In only his third season of full time driving, MacDonald posted some very impressive numbers, driving 114 winners and horses to more than $616,000 in purse money.  The 21-year-old competes regularly at Rideau Carleton Raceway. Chantel Gillis, 22, of Truro, Nova Scotia was presented with the Outstanding Groom Award. Standardbred Canada also presented three Media Excellence Awards at the Gala, to recognize and honour exceptional work in covering Canadian harness racing. A complete list of the winners and their respective owners is listed in the attached release. HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARD NAMED IN HONOUR OF SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE On Saturday, February 3, at the O’Brien Awards Gala, Standarbred Canada announced that the O’Brien Award for Horse of the Year is now named the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year Award.  “In light of his extraordinary success as a racehorse and stallion, and most importantly, the tremendous impact that Somebeachsomewhere has had on the Canadian harness racing industry, it was decided that we needed to do something to properly honour Beach,“  said Dan Gall, President and CEO of Standardbred Canada. “We made the offer to the Schooner Stable and they graciously accepted this,” continued Gall, “This is a way that each year when we honour our champions, we’ll be reminded of the great impact that Beach had on the industry.” Members of the Schooner Stable – Reg & Louise Petitpas, along with trainer Brent MacGrath and driver Paul MacDonell were on hand at the O’Briens to make the inaugural presentation of the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year Award to Jerry and Theresa Silva, owners of the exceptional trotting mare, Hannelore Hanover.   Hannelore Hanover won 10 of 17 races last season, won over $1.1 million in purse money and scored victories against male rivals in an elimination and final of the Breeders Crown Open Trot, the Allerage, and the Maple Leaf Trot. She also swept the Armbro Flight.  She was also recognized with an O’Brien as Canada’s Older Trotting Mare of the Year. Following a short battle with cancer, Somebeachsomewhere was humanely euthanized at Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Center in Ringoes, New Jersey at roughly 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 14. The syndicate announced that Somebeachsomewhere will be laid to rest at Hanover Shoe Farms in Hanover, Pennsylvania after an autopsy is complete. Somebeachsomewhere had stood stud at Hanover since his on-track career concluded at the end of the 2008 racing campaign. Driven by Paul MacDonell and campaigned by Brent MacGrath for the Nova Scotia-based Schooner Stable, world champion Somebeachsomewhere won 20 of his 21 races during his legendary career and earned $3,328,755 in purses. His major victories as a freshman included the Battle of Waterloo, Metro Pace, Champlain Stakes and Nassagaweya. At three, his highlights included the Burlington (which was later renamed the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes), Pepsi North America Cup, Confederation Cup, Simcoe, Bluegrass, Tattersalls, Messenger, Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and Breeders Crown. The two-time Canadian Horse of the Year was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame nine months after he retired – at the time holding eight world records. During his stud career, Somebeachsomewhere’s offspring earned more than $87 million and he was the first sire in harness racing history to top $20 million in progeny earnings in a single season. Among his offspring are 13 millionaires, including Captaintreacherous ($3.2 million), Pure Country ($2.4 million), Downbytheseaside ($2.3 million), Huntsville ($1.8 million) and Check Six ($1.6 million). Kathy Wade Vlaar Manager, Industry Marketing Standardbred Canada

On Wednesday, December 20, Standardbred Canada announced the finalists for the 2017 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past eason. The winners will be announced at the annual O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala on Saturday, February 3, 2018, at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale hotel in Mississauga, Ont. This will mark the 29th edition of the O’Brien Awards, named in honour 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. (as of December 19)  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 369 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 over $3.6 million in earnings. Gregg McNair of Guelph, Ont., is enjoying a productive 2017 campaign with 63 winners and over $1.6 million in purse earnings recorded in Canada.  McNair trains and co-owns O’Brien finalist The Joy Luck Club. Marc Campbell of Winsloe, PEI, 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 over $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 over $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 over $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 over $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 over 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 over $333,000 in earnings for the Camluck filly and included an Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final victory at Mohawk Racetrack. Classic Pro and Mateo earned nominations in the three-year-old pacing colt division.  Classic Pro won four of 14 starts and earned over $293,000 on the season.  Two of those wins were in Ontario Sires Stakes events and one of those gave the Shadow Play colt his mark of 1:51. Mateo, sired by Alberta stallion Blue Burner, hails from the west and posted 15 top three finishes from 16 races and over $232,000 in earnings.  His richest payday was a victory in the Western Canada Pacing Derby at Northlands Park.  He also won several Alberta Sires Stakes events over the season. Two millionaire daughters of Somebeachsomewhere, Sandbetweenurtoes, and Pure Country are the two finalists for Older Pacing Mare honours. Sandbetweenurtoes was a model of consistency, hitting the board in 24 of her 30 starts and earning over $243,000, while primarily competing in the Fillies and Mares Preferred races at Mohawk and Woodbine Racetracks. Pure Country had five wins and $471,000 in earnings this season which included a victory in the Breeders Crown Mare Pace. McWicked and Sintra are the Older Pacing Horse finalists.  McWicked was awarded an O’Brien for his outstanding three- year-old campaign in 2014.  Now six, the son of McArdle had seven wins in 27 races and almost $600,000 in earnings.  His richest payday came in winning the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs.  He also posted runner-up efforts in an elimination and the final of the Breeders Crown. Sintra’s first year in the Older Pacing Horse division was productive as he won nine of 19 races and over $617,000.  The son of Mach Three won Canada’s oldest harness stakes event, The Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack, to take home the lion’s share of the $615,000 purse.  He also won a leg and the final of the Graduate Series. On the trotting side, Kadabra Queen and Smoke And Mirrors, both daughters of Kadabra, are the two-year-old filly nominees. Kadabra Queen won five of 10 races and over $328,000 on the season.  All five of her victories were in the Ontario Sires Stakes, including a win in the season-ending Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final at Mohawk Racetrack, her final start of the season. Smoke And Mirrors won two races and over $176,000 in purse earnings.  Her richest payday was a runner-up finish in the Super Final. Alarm Detector and You Know You Do are the finalists in the juvenile trotting colt division. The Chapter Seven colt Alarm Detector was almost perfect in his debut season, winning six of seven races and $276,000.  Stakes victories included the Define The World and an elimination and final of the William Wellwood Memorial. You Know You Do won five of 12 races and over $401,000 while scoring wins in the Bluegrass, a division of the Champlain, and sweeping the Peter Haughton Memorial. Ariana G, a winner of an O’Brien at two, came back as a sophomore stronger than ever.  The Muscle Hill filly won 12 of 15 races during her million-dollar season.  Her major victories included the Breeders Crown, Elegantimage, the Simcoe, the Hambletonian Oaks, the Delvin Miller Memorial and the New Jersey Sire Stakes final. The other finalist in the sophomore trotting filly division is Magic Presto.  Despite an abbreviated season, the Kadabra filly had five wins and earnings of over $417,000, which included a victory in an elimination of the Hambletonian Oaks and a solid runner-up effort in the final. International Moni and R First Class earned nominations in the three-year-old trotting colt division.  International Moni won nine of 15 races and $620,000 this season, which included wins in the Erskine, a Breeders Crown elimination, a Kentucky Futurity elimination, the Bluegrass, a division of the Simcoe, an elimination of the Hambletonian and a sweep of the Goodtimes. R First Class boasted 11 top-two finishes in 12 starts for $307,000 in earnings.  The son of Kadabra won three of six Ontario Sires Stakes events including the Super Final.  Hannelore Hanover is back to defend her title in the Older Trotting Mare division and is up against Emoticon Hanover. Emoticon Hanover finished on the board in 12 of 13 starts and earned $446,000.  The daughter of Kadabra won the Breeders Crown, the Allerage, the Miss Versatility, and the Joie De Vie. Hannelore Hanover won 10 of 17 races this season while also posting five runner-up finishes.  The Swan For All mare scored victories against male rivals in an elimination and final of the Breeders Crown Open Trot, the Allerage, and the Maple Leaf Trot.  She also swept the Armbro Flight. Musical Rhythm and Odds On Amethyst are the Older Trotting Horse nominees.  Musical Rhythm, a son of Cantab Hall, was a solid preferred campaigner on the Woodbine Entertainment Group Circuit and finished the year with six wins and $178,000 in purse money. Odds On Amethyst, a son of Muscle Hill,  scored 10 wins and surpassed $215,000 in earnings, while also primarily competing in the preferred and free for all trotting ranks. In the Armstrong Breeder of the Year category, partners Marvin Katz of Toronto, Ont., and Al Libfeld, of Pickering, Ont., will defend their title against first-time finalist Stan Klemencic of Trenton, Ont. The Katz-Libfeld partnership has evolved into one of harness racing's most respected breeding enterprises.  From the ten horses bred by this partnership and that raced in 2017,  there were 27 wins and earnings of just over $1.5 million. Their top horse was O’Brien finalist Ariana G, a winner of over $1.1 million. Breeder Stan Klemencic had 18 horses that raced in 2017, with 57 wins and over $1.6 million in earnings. Leading the way was Breeders Crown champion What The Hill, a winner of more than $1 million. The Future Star Award finalists are Brett MacDonald of Manotick, Ont., and Maxime Velaye of Mirabel, Que.  In only his third season of full time driving, MacDonald, who was a finalist in this category last year, posted some very impressive numbers.  The 21-year-old competes regularly at Rideau Carleton Raceway, and has driven 110 winners and horses to almost $590,000 in purse money.  Trainer Maxime Velaye conditioned 23 winners and horses to over $323,000 in purse money.  Although he raced mainly at Hippodrome 3R and Rideau Carleton Raceway, he also competed in the Ontario Sires Stakes events with a pair of sophomore colts, trotter Capteur De Reve, and pacer Histoire Enchantee. One of the 24 horse nominees will be honoured as Canada’s Horse of the Year. The winners will be announced at the O’Brien Awards Gala on Saturday, February 3, 2018, at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont. A complete list of the finalists and their respective owners follows.   2017 O’Brien Award Finalists Pacers   Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer   Kendall Seelster Owned by 1187422 Ontario Inc., Ottawa, ON   Percy Bluechip Owned by Shadow Two Stable, Puslinch, ON James B & Wilma J MacKenzie, Ennismore, ON Hudson Standrdbrd Stb Inc., Hudson, QC   Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer   Pedro Hanover Owned by Brad D Gray, Dundas, ON Denise Guerriero, Toronto, ON   Stay Hungry Owned by Bradley J Grant, Milton, ON Irwin Samelman, Las Vegas, NV   Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer   Bettors Up Owned by Bradley J Grant & Teresa Davidson, Milton, ON Michelle Y McEneny, Waterdown, ON   The Joy Luck Club Owned by R A W Equine Inc., Burlington, ON Mark Horner, St Marys, ON R Gregg McNair, Guelph, ON   Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer   Classic Pro Owned by Dr. Ian Moore, Puslinch, ON R G McGroup Ltd., Bathurst, NB Serge Savard, St Bruno, QC   Mateo Owned by Christine Cutting, Airdrie, AB Jim R Marino, Surrey, BC   Older Pacing Mare   Pure Country Owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Wellsville PA   Sandbetweenurtoes Owned by Bradley J Grant, Milton, ON   Older Pacing Horse   McWicked Owned by S S G Stables, North Boston, NY   Sintra Owned by Brad D Gray, Dundas, ON Michael E Guerriero, Brampton, ON Menary Racing Inc., Rockton, ON   Trotters Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter   Kadabra Queen Owned by Harness Horsepower Inc., Campbellville, ON Frank Monte, Markham, ON   Smoke And Mirrors Owned by Melvin Hartman, Ottawa, ON David H Mc Duffee, Delray Beach, FL Little E Llc, New York, NY   Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter   Alarm Detector Owned by Thomas R Rankin & Elizabeth C Rankin, St Catharines, ON Claude Hamel, Ayer’s Cliff, QC Santo Vena, Brampton, ON   You Know You Do Owned by Howard A Taylor, Philadelphia, PA Order By Stable, Boras, Sweden Bud C Hatfield, Columbus, OH Mkatz Alibfeld Sgoldband, Toronto, ON   Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter   Ariana G Owned by Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON Al Libfeld, Pickering, ON   Magic Presto Owned by Melvin Hartman, Ottawa, ON Herb A Liverman, Miami Beach, FL David H Mc Duffee, Delray Beach, FL Little E Llc, New York, NY   Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter   International Moni Owned by Moni Maker Stable, Enfield, CT   R First Class Owned by Thomas A Rankin & Elizabeth C Rankin, St Catharines, ON   Older Trotting Mare Emoticon Hanover                                                                                                                     Owned by Determination, Montreal, QC   Hannelore Hanover Owned by Burke Racing Stable Llc, Fredericktown- Weaver Bruscemi Llc, Canonsburg, PA Frank D Baldachino, Clarksburg, NJ J and T Silva Stables Llc, Long Beach, NY Older Trotting Horse Musical Rhythm Owned by Santo Vena, Brampton, ON Nunzio Vena, Bolton, ON Claude Hamel, Ayer’s Cliff, QC Benoit Baillargeon, Guelph, ON   Odds On Amethyst Owned by William G Cripps, Acton, ON Charles M Gazzola, Waterloo, ON Patrick J Hudon & Adam Kean, Rockwood, ON   People Awards   O’Brien Award of Horsemanship   Marc Campbell Winsloe, PE   Kathy Wade Vlaar Manager of Industry Marketing  

TORONTO, January 31 - Fresh off winning his fourth O'Brien Award as Canada's harness racing 'Driver of the Year', Sylvain Filion will be a celebrity guest at the upcoming Milton Sports Celebrity Dinner on Tuesday, February 7. The 15th annual Milton Sports Celebrity Dinner is coordinated by the Milton Chamber of Commerece and will be held at Rattlesnake Golf Club. The dinner and auction is hosted by Ken Reid of Rogers Sportsnet. Filion joins an impressive list of celebrity athletes that will be attending this year's event, including Hockey Hall of Fame members Paul Henderson and Paul Coffey, former Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, curling champion Rachel Homan, former NHL player Shayne Corson and Olympian Melissa Bishop. The Sports Celebrity Dinner & Auction has become one of Milton's most talked about events, raising the profile of the Milton Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Scholarship Fund. The Sports Celebrity Dinner & Auction brings together sports heroes and sports enthusiasts alike. Organized by a volunteer committee of Chamber members, the evening's program includes an autograph signing session, a cocktail reception, a gourmet meal, and a silent and live auction. Bidding on the live auction items, which in past years has featured golf packages, spa packages, autographed jerseys and sports memorabilia, is one of the highlights of the evening. The festivities conclude with the celebrity athletes gathering on stage for a question and answer session led by Reid. Proceeds from the event go towards the Chamber Scholarship Fund, which helps fund post-secondary education for local high school students. The Woodbine Entertainment Group is a proud sponsor of the Milton Sports Celebrity Dinner. Tickets are $175 and can be purchased by emailing Cheryl@miltonchamber.ca or by clicking here. Mark McKelvie

On Saturday, January 28, Standardbred Canada announced harness racing's national champions at the 2016 O'Brien Awards, which honour Canada's best in harness racing over the past season. This was the 28th edition of the O'Brien Awards, named in honour of the late Joe O'Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. It was a big night for several winners who took home more than one O'Brien trophy. Betting Line, co-owned and trained by Casie Coleman of Cambridge, Ont., who shares ownership with West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol, took home two O'Briens - one in the three-year-old pacing colt category and one as Canada's Horse of the Year. Marvin Katz of Toronto, Ont., and Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ont., were honoured for the second consecutive year with the Armstrong Breeder of the Year Award, and their two-year-old trotting filly, Ariana G won the O'Brien in her division. Katz also shares ownership on Idyllic Beach who was honoured as Canada's Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year. Rick Zeron of Oakville, Ont., took home the O'Brien Award of Horsemanship and his two-year-old trotting colt, Mass Production was also honoured with an O'Brien. Driver Sylvain Filion, of Milton, Ont., and trainer Richard Moreau of Puslinch, Ont., added to their trophy collections, both winning National honours in their respective categories for the fourth time in their careers. Betting Line was almost perfect in 2016, finishing the season with 14 wins and a second in 15 races to go along with almost $1.7 million in earnings. The Bettor's Delight colt's victories included the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup, the Battle of the Brandywine, the Milstein Memorial, the Little Brown Jug, the Simcoe Stakes, and a sweep of all of his Ontario Sires Stakes races, including his OSS Super Final. What started as a partnership that focused on buying yearlings and racing horses has evolved into one of harness racing's most respected breeding enterprises for Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. Horses bred by this partnership won 29 races and purses in excess of $1.3 million in 2016. Their top horses were All The Time, O'Brien winner Ariana G, Princess Aurora and O Narutac Perfecto. Canada's Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the year, Ariana G won nine of 11 races and earned $804,245 during her rookie campaign. Stakes wins for the Muscle Hill filly included the Breeders Crown, Jim Doherty Memorial, Peaceful Way elimination and final, and New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship. Veteran horseman Rick Zeron continued to successfully compete as a trainer and driver on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit. Last year he drove 116 winners and horses to almost $2.6 million in purse earnings, while training 49 winners and horses to $1.7 million in earnings, including Mass Production, winner of the O'Brien Award in the two-year-old trotting colt category. The Muscle Mass colt, Mass Production, won five of nine races and more than $285,000 during his rookie campaign. His victories included four Ontario Sires Stakes wins highlighted by a season's best 1:54.4 stakes record effort in the OSS Super Final. Sylvain Filion, a resident of Milton, Ont., won Canada's Driver of the Year title in 2012, 2013 and 2015 before collecting his fourth bronze for the 2016 season. In 2016, he drove 310 winners and led all Canadian drivers in the earnings column with more than $7.7 million, while joining the $100 million club for lifetime earnings. Filion was the regular driver for O'Brien champion, two-year-old pacing colt Beyond Delight. Richard Moreau, of Puslinch, Ont., took home his fourth consecutive O'Brien trophy. Moreau, who has been a regular on the WEG circuit for over 12 years, led all Canadian trainers in the wins column with 249 wins to his credit and trained the winners of nearly $4.0 million. Louis-Philippe Roy was recognized as the Future Star winner. In 2016, the Mont-Joli, QC resident put together some phenomenal numbers, winning 233 races and driving horses to earnings of more than $1 million. Roy was the leading dash winning driver at Hippodrome 3R and Rideau Carleton Raceway. Idyllic Beach was honoured in the two-year-old pacing filly division. She hit the board in all of her 14 races, boasted eight wins and almost $730,000 in purse earnings. Major stakes wins for the Somebeachsomewhere filly included the Shes A Great Lady elimination and final at Mohawk Racetrack, along with the Kentuckiana Stakes at Hoosier Park, and the International Stallion Stake at The Red Mile. The Bettor's Delight colt Beyond Delight, winner in the Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt category, won three of 11 races and more than $423,000 for his connections. His three wins were major ones as he swept the elimination and final of the Metro Pace and won a division of the Champlain Stakes, all at Mohawk Racetrack. L A Delight picked up her second consecutive O'Brien trophy after putting together another stellar season as a sophomore, winning nine races in 19 starts and more than $787,000. The three-year-old pacing filly was perfect in the Ontario Sires Stakes events, sweeping six of six, including the season-ending Super Final. She posted a life's best 1:49.1 in winning the Nadia Lobell at The Meadows. Lady Shadow also won her second consecutive O'Brien Award in the Older Pacing Mare category. She put together another profitable season with 12 victories and more than $945,000 in earnings. She was strong throughout the season, sweeping the elimination and final of the Roses Are Red, the Milton Stakes, and the elimination and final of the Breeders Crown before capping her year with a win in the TVG FFA at The Meadowlands. Wiggle It Jiggleit, the sport's richest harness horse last season with $1.8 million bankrolled was voted Canada's Older Pacing Horse of the Year. He never finished worse than third in his 24 races which included 15 wins and a mark of 1:47.2 posted in the Graduate Final at The Meadowlands. The multiple stakes winner captured Canada's oldest stakes event, The Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack and also secured runner-up finishes in the Confederation Cup and Prix d'Été on Canadian soil. Caprice Hill won her second consecutive O'Brien, after a profitable campaign in 2016 with eight wins in 15 starts and purses in excess of $630,000 for her connections. The Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year won three of four Ontario Sires Stakes events, the Casual Breeze, Simcoe Stakes and was runner-up in the Hambletonian Oaks. Marion Marauder took divisional honours as Canada's Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year. He was a winner of 10 of 15 starts, became the ninth Trotting Triple Crown winner in 2016 -- and first since 2006 -- by sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity. The son of Muscle Hill won the Goodtimes Stakes and a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial en route to a season that amassed more than $1.5 million in purses, topping the North American earnings charts for all trotters. The incredible trotting mare Hannelore Hanover won 17 of 20 races and earned $1.1 million in purses, leading all female trotters in earnings and winning the O'Brien in her division. Her victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and the Hambletonian Maturity, where she defeated male rivals. She also beat the boys in the Centaur Trotting Classic in addition to winning the Armbro Flight Stakes, TVG Series championship for female trotters, Fresh Yankee, Muscle Hill, and Miami Valley Distaff. Her mile time of 1:51 in winning the Armbro Flight equaled the world record for a four-year-old trotting mare. Flanagan Memory was recognized as Older Trotting Horse of the Year. The now seven-year-old son of Kadabra won six of 14 races including the Allerage, and the Breeders Crown Championship, and banked more than $663,000 last season. This was his second O'Brien Award as he won Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt honours in 2013. The Media Excellence Awards and Outstanding Groom Award were also presented at the O'Brien Awards gala. Teesha Symes, 27, of Cambridge, Ont., was recognized with the Outstanding Groom Award for 2016. Symes has worked for O'Brien Award winner Dr. Ian Moore for the last decade, and full-time since 2012. The Springhill, N.S. native cared for State Treasurer, Canada's Horse of the Year in 2015, throughout his racing career. In addition to State Treasurer, Symes went on the road to care for Rockin In Heaven the past two years and also cared for many of the Moore Stables' two-year-olds.  Keith McCalmont of Toronto, Ont. won in the Outstanding Written Work category for his contribution to the 'Remembering Those Lost' feature, published in the February 2016 issue of TROT Magazine. McCalmont talked to some of the trainers and owners most affected by the tragic barn fire at Classy Lane Training Centre and asked them to share some memories of their beloved horses. Woodbine Entertainment's 2016 Pepsi North America Cup broadcast in HD won the Media Excellence Award in the Outstanding Video, Film or Broadcast category. 'The Pepsi North America Cup' aired across Canada on the TSN2 television network on Saturday, June 18, 2016 from 10:00 - 11:00 p.m. The 60-minute special broadcast of the $1- Million Pepsi North America Cup aired in high definition and featured live race coverage of the main event as well as a feature on Emprize Hanover and her two foals. Clive Cohen's photo of October racing at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, Ont. was the winner in the Outstanding Photography category. This marked the third time that Cohen has won in this category. Cohen's photo was taken on October 1, 2016, at Mohawk Racetrack and published later that night on the WEG Standardbred Instagram feed. Cohen is the resident track photographer for Standardbred racing at Mohawk and Woodbine Racetracks.  Here is a complete list of winners and their respective owners: 2016 O'BRIEN AWARD WINNERS PACERS TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER Idyllic Beach Owned by Christina Takter, East Windsor, NJ - John Fielding, Toronto, ON - Brixton Medical Inc., Matawan, NJ and Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON   TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT PACER Beyond Delight Owned by Jeffrey Snyder, Michael Snyder, New York, NY and Four Friends Racing Stable LLC, Moorestown, NJ   THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY PACER L A Delight Owned by Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON - CSX Stables, Liberty Center, OH, and Al McIntosh Holdings, Inc., Leamington, ON   THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT PACER Betting Line Owned by West Wins Stable, Cambridge, ON, Christine Calhoun, Chatham, ON and Mac Nichol, Burlington, ON   OLDER PACING MARE Lady Shadow Owned by David Kryway, Amherstburg, ON, Carl Atley, Xenia, OH, Ed Gold, Phoenixville, PA and BFJ Stable, Philadelphia, PA   OLDER PACING HORSE Wiggle It Jiggleit Owned by George Teague Jr Inc., Harrington DE - Teague Racing Partnership, Boynton Beach, FL   TROTTERS TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER Ariana G Owned by Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON & Al Libfeld, Pickering, ON   TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT TROTTER Mass Production Owned by Rick Zeron Stables, Oakville, ON- James Walker, Port Perry, ON- Bruno Dipoce, Wasaga Beach, ON and Rene Allard, Matamoras, PA   THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY TROTTER Caprice Hill Owned by Tom Hill, Hamilton, ON   THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT TROTTER Marion Marauder Owned by Marion Jean Wellwood, Stratford, ON & Devin Keeling, Cambridge, ON   OLDER TROTTING MARE Hannelore Hanover Owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown - Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA - Frank Baldachino, Clarksburg, NJ - J And T Silva Stables LLC, Long Beach, NY   OLDER TROTTING HORSE Flanagan Memory Owned by Liette Flanagan, Repentigny - Rene Dion, Saint-Lazare, QC   HORSE OF THE YEAR Betting Line Owned by West Wins Stable, Cambridge, ON, Christine Calhoun, Chatham, ON and Mac Nichol, Burlington, ON   PEOPLE AWARDS O'BRIEN AWARD OF HORSEMANSHIP Rick Zeron, Oakville, ON   ARMSTRONG BREEDER OF THE YEAR Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON / Al Libfeld, Pickering, ON   DRIVER OF THE YEAR Sylvain Filion, Milton, ON   TRAINER OF THE YEAR Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON   FUTURE STAR AWARD Louis Philippe Roy, Mont-Joli, QC   ADDITIONAL AWARDS PRESENTED AT THE O'BRIEN AWARDS Outstanding Groom Award Teesha Symes, Cambridge, ON Standardbred Canada's Media Excellence Awards Written Work - Keith McCalmont Broadcast - Woodbine Entertainment Group Photography - Clive Cohen     Jeff Porchak  

This Saturday, January 28, Standardbred Canada will present the O'Brien Awards, Canada's National Harness Racing Awards at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont. The who's who of the harness racing set will be on hand to receive their coveted bronze busts of the late Joe O'Brien, a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Awards will be doled out in 18 categories, along with three Media Awards of Excellence and an Outstanding Groom Award. Two finalists in each of the categories were announced in late December and the winners will be revealed at the Black Tie Gala. Several past champions are looking to add to their trophy collections including defending driver of the year, Sylvain Filion and defending trainer of the year, Richard Moreau. Last season Filion, a resident of Milton, Ont., steered winners of more than $7.8 million, making 2016 his second-best year behind his first O'Brien Award-winning season in 2012 when horses he drove won $8.66 million. With his seasonal success, the veteran driver reached a career milestone, topping the $100 million mark in lifetime earnings. The other finalist in the driver category is first time nominee Bob McClure of Elora, Ont., who topped the charts for wins in 2016, and was the leading driver at many of Ontario's smaller tracks including Flamboro Downs and Grand River Raceway. Richard Moreau, of Puslinch, Ont., is looking for his fourth consecutive O'Brien as Trainer but he'll have to get past another trainer who has a collection of bronzes, Casie Coleman, of Cambridge, Ont. Moreau topped the trainer earnings charts with $4 million and he also scored his 5,000th win as a trainer last year. Coleman trained horses to earnings in excess of $2.8 million in 2016 and the stable was led by Betting Line, a winner of almost $1.7 million and a finalist in the three-year-old pacing colt division. Rick Zeron of Oakville, Ont., has three shots at taking home some hardware. He is a finalist for the O'Brien Award of Horsemanship, an honour he won in 2010, and his two-year-old trotting colt Mass Production and his older pacing horse, Shamballa are up for national honours. The partnership of Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld are defending their title in the Armstrong Breeder of the Year Category, and are up against Seelster Farms. In addition to the Breeder category, their homebred Ariana G is up for divisional honours as Canada's top two-year-old trotting filly. The O'Briens will be video streamed live on standardbredcanada.ca starting at approximately 9:15 p.m. (EST). If you are a Twitter follower, you can follow the live updates from @trotinsider.   From Standardbred Canada  

It doesn’t matter how many times you see your name among the best, being nominated for one of the top awards in harness racing never gets old. Seelster Farms, based in Lucan, has been nominated and will be looking to win it for their third time. It is one of the biggest breeding farms in Canada. Seelster is one of three finalists for an O’Brien Award as breeder of the year. It was nominated along with Marvin Katz and Al Libfield. The Seelster Farms team has a long history of success, having won the breeder of the year award in 2006 and 2013. The O’Brien Awards celebrate the year’s best in harness racing. They are the highest honour in the sport and are named after the late horseman Joe O’Brien, a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. “No, it never gets old hat,” said Walter Parkinson, assistant farm manager at Seelster. “It’s nice to be a finalist for this award. Whether you come away a winner or not it’s just great being nominated for this award. It’s recognition that you’ve had a great season.” Seelster Farms is Canada’s largest commercial breeder. Seelster-bred horses won 293 races and more than $3 million in 2016, including almost $800,000 in the Ontario Sires Stakes for their best season in the program since 2007. Hard work is one reason for the success of Seelster Farms, but it also takes an intimate knowledge of breeding. A little bit of luck doesn’t hurt either. “It starts with our brood mare purchases, crossing those with the best stallions available whether our own or stallions across Ontario and the U.S. trying to produce the best horse from conception to when we sell them as a yearling,” Parkinson said. Some of the highlights for the breeder this year included top performers like Arsenal Seelster, Mayhem Seelster, Soiree Seelster and Tycoon Seelster, as well as top-aged performers like Godiva Seelster, Nirvana Seelster and Tessa Seelster. Three-year-old pacing filly Mayhem Seelster (Mach Three-Macapelo Rose) was their top money-earner with a $237,746 campaign and two-year-old pacing filly Soiree Seelster (Big Jim-Smilesplace) was another Gold winner from the Tony O’Sullivan stable. They’ve also added multiple Molson Pace winners and 2015 horse of the year State Treasurer to their 2017 stallion roster. “It’s just a really great staff at the farm and that’s what leads to being successful,” Parkinson said. The 600-acre farm is managed by Karen Favacho. Ann Straatman is reproduction manager and Tina Marie Howard the registered veterinary technician at the farm, which is owned by Catherine Van Bussel and Hubertina Van Boxmeer. “Being up for these awards tells you you are on the right path and want to continue it for years to come,” Parkinson said. “We go a few very rough years but these two past sale seasons have been very good for us. We’ve had good yearling sales in 2016 and 2015. Breeding is starting to turn upward again; our horses are performing at the top of the OSS (and other areas). It is a special time and this sort of gives it a benchmark. It tells us we must be doing something right. It’s really a great honour.” The O’Brien Award winners will be announced at the annual gala on Saturday, Jan. 28, in Mississauga. By Morris Dalla Costa Reprinted with permission of The London Free Press

Anticipation is building for this year's O'Brien Awards, to be held on Saturday, January 28 at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel. The black-tie gala, presented by Standardbred Canada, will honour the best in Canadian harness racing from the 2016 season. It is the night that fans and industry participants will learn who takes home the prestigious hardware. The O'Brien Awards annually celebrate the best in the sport. Harness racing media from across the country, race secretaries, track publicists, track announcers and simulcast hosts have voted for the winners, with two finalists in each category invited to attend the event, where envelopes will be opened and the winners will be revealed. "We have won several O'Brien Awards and always look forward to a great evening as it's, in our opinion, the best awards program in the industry," said Jeffrey Snyder, co-owner of Beyond Delight, who is a finalist along with Sports Column in the two-year-old pacing colt category. "Actually we were expecting to be nominated due to the horse's performance," continued Snyder, 71, of New York, N.Y., "but it's always exciting to hear from Kathy (Standardbred Canada Industry Marketing Manager, Kathy Wade Vlaar) that we were nominated." After a dream season in which her three-year-old trotting colt Marion Marauder won the Trotting Triple Crown, co-owner Jean Wellwood raved about the O'Brien Awards when asked earlier this month. "I look forward to the evening," said Wellwood, 78, of Stratford, Ont. "It is a spectacular event each year. My personal thank you to all the people who do all the work to make it such a spectacular evening!" Wellwood stated that she was very pleased to get the call on 'Marauder's nomination. "It [would be] an honour to receive an O'Brien Award for me, as Joe and Ilene (Joe O'Brien, the legendary Canadian horseman who the awards are named after, and his wife, Ilene) were very dear friends for many years." Bob McClure, who is a finalist for Canada's top driver of 2016, said that he is planning on making the O'Briens a family affair. "We don't know yet if my son, Ryder, is coming, but my grandparents are buying a table, and I'm going to have a table with some friends, so there's no shortage of room at the O'Briens for family," said McClure, 26, who is a resident of Elora, Ont. "I don't have a tux ready, though. I'll have to go rent one." Walter Parkinson, the assistant farm manager for breeder of the year finalist Seelster Farms, has characterized the O'Brien Awards Gala as a regal pause during what is a very busy time of year. "It is always an enjoyable evening," said Parkinson, who is a 38-year-old resident of Lucan, Ont. "It is great being able to catch up with so many people in one place. As we approach the start of breeding season and with the first foals starting to hit the ground, it is nice to be able to get away from the farm and celebrate the best in Canadian harness racing before life gets hectic." Parkinson explained that Seelster being an O'Brien nominee is quite humbling for the entire operation. "It's certainly an honour to be a finalist for the O'Brien Award for Armstrong Breeder of the Year," said Parkinson. "We take a lot of pride in the horses that we breed and raise, and to be recognized as one of two finalists for this award is a great way to cap off a successful season." Mel Hartman, who is part of the ownership team behind two-year-old trotting filly of the year finalist Magic Presto, also offered his praise. "I read it (about the nomination) on the internet, to be honest with you," said Hartman, 73, from Ottawa, Ont. "And I got a phone call from [Standardbred Canada] to let us know...We're very happy that she's one of the finalists." A finalist with U.S. Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year Ariana G, Hartman went on to add, "We may not have the highest of expectations, but we're still honoured that she was nominated." Conditioner Casie Coleman is no stranger to the O'Brien Awards Gala, as she has walked away with the trainer of the year award on five different occasions. Still, the night doesn't get old to the 36-year-old Cambridge, Ont. resident. "O'Briens is always an awesome night!" said Coleman, who is again a trainer of the year finalist, and also conditioner of Betting Line, another O'Brien finalist. "Whenever I get nominated I buy tickets for my whole staff to join me, as they deserve to be there as much as I do. Everyone's all dressed up and happy, the meal is always great, it's just a real good night to get to relax and reflect on all the awesome horses we got to race and watch race that past season." There will also be a pair of younger faces in the crowd at the gala, as Future Star finalists Brett MacDonald, 20, and Louis-Phillipe Roy, 27, will be taking in the evening as well. "Some people go their whole career without being nominated for an O'Brien, I couldn't believe it when [Kathy Wade Vlaar] called and told me I got the nomination," said MacDonald, of Embrun, Ont. "It is still early on in my career, so the call was really exciting for me." Roy, a resident of Mont-Joli, Quebec, echoed the same sentiments, but he also stated that he has come to learn just how much of an honour an O'Brien nomination is. "When I first got the call I didn't realize how big it was," said Roy, "but then with all the people congratulating me and talking about the O'Briens, I realized how big it is. I'm thrilled to be going to the O'Brien Awards!" A small number of tickets still remain for the 2016 O'Brien Awards. As a result, Standardbred Canada has extended the deadline to 12 noon (ET) on Monday, January 23. To order your tickets, contact the Standardbred Canada Industry Marketing Department at 905-858-3060 (Ext. 207, 243 or 213). Jeff Porchak

On Tuesday, December 20, Standardbred Canada announced the finalists for the 2016 O’Brien Awards, which honour 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, January 28, 2017 at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont. This will be the 28th edition of the O’Brien Awards, named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Twelve 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 Caprice Hill, Flanagan Memory, L A Delight, Lady Shadow and Solar Sister in the horse categories as well as Casie Coleman, Travis Cullen, Sylvain Filion, Richard Moreau,  Rick Zeron, the partnership of Marvin Katz & Al Libfeld, and Seelster Farms. In the driver of the year category, Sylvain Filion, the leading money-earning driver so far this year, is up against Bob McClure, the leading dash-winning driver to date.   Filion, a resident of Milton, Ont., won this award in 2012, 2013 and 2015.  He’s driven 310 winners and leads all Canadian drivers in the earnings column with more than $7.7 million.  He was the regular driver for a trio of O’Brien finalists -- Beyond Delight, Emoticon Hanover and Yaris Bayama. Bob McClure of Elora, Ont., receives his first O’Brien Award nomination and is en route to a career best year. McClure leads all Canadian drivers in the wins column with 561 victories and has driven horses to more than $2.9 million in earnings.   McClure is the leading reinsman at Flamboro Downs, sits in second at The Raceway at the Western Fair District, and won the dash winning titles at Georgian Downs and Grand River Raceway. Casie Coleman and Richard Moreau, two of Canada’s top trainers will see if they can add to their respective O’Brien collections. Casie Coleman of Cambridge, Ont., reduced her stable size this year to focus on her stakes performers.  She conditioned 53 winners and horses who earned more than $2.8 million, including stable star and O’Brien finalist, Betting Line, a winner of $1.7 million, who also added North America Cup and Little Brown Jug victories to Coleman’s 2016 accolades. Coleman is looking for her sixth Trainer of the Year title. Richard Moreau, of Puslinch, Ont., is the defending Trainer of the Year and is looking to take home his fourth consecutive O’Brien bronze.   Moreau, who has been a regular on the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) circuit for over 12 years, leads all Canadian trainers in the wins column with 249 wins to his credit and has trained the winners of nearly $4.0 million. Travis Cullen, who relocated to Rockton, Ont., from Airdrie, Alta. near the end of September, and Rick Zeron, of Oakville, Ont., are the two finalists for the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship.   Cullen was nominated in this category last year and won an O’Brien in 2013 as Canada’s Future Star winner.  This past year Cullen has driven 239 winners and horses to $1.3 million in purse earnings while training 215 winners and horses to $1.2 million in earnings.  He was both the leading trainer and driver at Century Downs this past season. Veteran horseman Rick Zeron continues to successfully compete as a trainer and driver on the Woodbine Entertainment circuit.  This year he’s driven 116 winners and horses to $2.6 million in purse earnings, while training 49 winners and horses to $1.7 million in earnings.  Two of his trainees are O’Brien Award finalists -– two-year-old trotting colt Mass Production, and Older Pacing Horse Shamballa. Idyllic Beach and Yaris Bayama are the nominees in the two-year-old pacing filly division. Idyllic Beach hit the board in all of her 14 races, boasted eight wins and almost $730,000 in purse earnings. Major stakes wins for the Somebeachsomewhere filly included the Shes A Great Lady elimination and final at Mohawk Racetrack, along with the Kentuckiana Stakes at Hoosier Park, and the International Stallion Stake at The Red Mile.   Yaris Bayama, a homebred who won half of her 10 starts and purses exceeding $231,000, posted a mark of 1:52.4 in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event at Mohawk.  The Sportswriter filly had three Ontario Sires Stakes victories, including the season-ending Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final. Beyond Delight and Sports Column are the two-year-old pacing colt finalists. The Bettors Delight colt Beyond Delight won three of 11 races and more than $423,000 for his connections.  His three wins were major ones as he swept the elimination and final of the Metro and won a division of the Champlain Stakes, all at Mohawk Racetrack. The Sportswriter colt Sports Column finished 1-2 in all six season starts for $222,000 in earnings.  Victories included a sweep of the Battle of Waterloo elimination and final and two Ontario Sires Stakes events including one in July at Mohawk where the $20,000 yearling purchase posted a season’s best 1:52.1. L A Delight and Pure Country compete for O’Brien honours in the sophomore pacing filly category. L A Delight, an O’Brien champion at two, put together another stellar season as a sophomore, winning nine races in 19 starts and more than $787,000.  She was perfect in the Ontario Sires Stakes events, sweeping six of six, including the season-ending Super Final.  She posted a life’s best 1:49.1 in winning the Nadia Lobell at The Meadows. Pure Country, a homebred daughter of Somebeachsomewhere scored 10 wins and bankrolled more than $1.1 million in her sophomore season to top the earnings chart in her division.  She scored many stakes victories on both sides of the border and her richest payday of the season came in winning the Fan Hanover at Mohawk Racetrack in 1:49.3. Millionaires Betting Line and Racing Hill enjoyed incredible seasons and earned nominations in the three-year-old pacing colt division. Betting Line finished the season with 14 wins and a second in 15 season starts to go along with almost $1.7 million in earnings.  The Bettors Delight colt’s victories included the $1-million Pepsi North America Cup, the Battle of the Brandywine, the Milstein Memorial, the Little Brown Jug, the Simcoe Stakes, and a sweep of all of his Ontario Sires Stakes races, including his OSS Super Final. Racing Hill hit the board in 14 of 16 races and racked up more than $1.6 million in earnings during a season that saw victories in the Hempt, the Adios elimination and final, the Messenger, the Tattersalls and the Breeders Crown Championship. Lady Shadow and Solar Sister are the Older Pacing Mare finalists. Lady Shadow is up for her second consecutive O’Brien Award in the Older Pacing Mare category. She put together another profitable season with 12 victories and more than $945,000 in earnings.  She was strong throughout the season, sweeping the elimination and final of the Roses Are Red, the Milton Stakes, and the elimination and final of the Breeders Crown before capping her year with a win in the TVG FFA at The Meadowlands. Solar Sister put together a solid season, winning four of 17 and more than $400,000. She took a mark of 1:49.4 in winning the Artiscape at Tioga Downs, which was also her biggest payday of the season. The Older Pacing Horse pool always runs deep, and this year’s two finalists, Shamballa and Wiggle It Jiggleit were at the top of their game in 2016. Shamballa boasted 11 top-three finishes in 19 starts for almost $440,000 in purse money.  He took a mark of 1:47.1 in winning the US Pacing Championship and also picked up cheques in many stakes engagements. Wiggle It Jiggleit, the sport’s richest harness horse this year with $1.8 million bankrolled, never finished worse than third in his 24 races which included 15 wins and a mark of 1:47.2 posted in the Graduate Final at The Meadowlands.  The multiple stakes winner captured Canada’s oldest stakes event, The Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack and also secured runner-up finishes in the Prix d'Été and Confederation Cup on Canadian soil. On the trotting side, Ariana G and Magic Presto are the two-year-old filly nominees. The Muscle Hill filly Ariana G won nine of 11 races and earned $804,245 during her rookie campaign which included stakes wins in the Breeders Crown, Jim Doherty Memorial, Peaceful Way elimination and final, and New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship. Magic Presto won four of nine races and netted more than $393,000 with wins in three Ontario Sires Stakes events.  The daughter of Kadabra’s richest payday came in her final start of the season on November 19 when she trotted to a dominating win in the Goldsmith Maid at Woodbine Racetrack and collected $223,500 for her efforts. The Muscle Mass colt, Mass Production, won five of nine races and more than $285,000 during his rookie campaign,  earning him a nomination in the two-year-old trotting colt division.  His victories included four Ontario Sires Stakes wins highlighted by a season’s best 1:54.4 stakes record effort in the OSS Super Final. Seven And Seven, a son of Chapter Seven, is the other finalist and recorded four wins in eight races along with over $226,000 in earnings.  His stakes wins included an elimination and final of the Define The World, along with a sweep of the elimination and final of the William Wellwood Memorial where he posted a season’s mark of 1:55.3. Two talented Kadabra fillies are finalists in the sophomore trotting filly division. Caprice Hill, an O’Brien champion at two, put together another profitable campaign in 2016, with eight wins in 15 starts and purses in excess of $630,000 for her connections.  She won three of four Ontario Sires Stakes events, the Casual Breeze, Simcoe Stakes and was runner-up in the Hambletonian Oaks. Emoticon Hanover, won seven of 15 races and $604,000 while posting a mark of 1:53.1 in winning the OSS Super Final at Mohawk.  She won four of six Ontario Sires Stakes events and also scored wins in divisions of the Simcoe and Casual Breeze.  She ended her season with solid runner-up finishes in the elimination and final of the Breeders Crown. Millionaires Bar Hopping and Marion Marauder will compete for O’Brien hardware in the three-year-old trotting colt division. The Muscle Hill colt Bar Hopping won nine of 19 races and more than $1.2 million in his three-year-old season, taking a mark of 1:51.4 at The Meadowlands.  He won several major stakes, including a sweep of the Canadian Trotting Classic and the elimination and final of the Breeders Crown. Marion Marauder, a winner of 10 of 15 starts, became the ninth Trotting Triple Crown winner in 2016 –- and first since 2006 –- by sweeping the Hambletonian, Yonkers Trot, and Kentucky Futurity.  The son of Muscle Hill won the Goodtimes Stakes and a division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial en route to a season that amassed more than $1.5 million in purses, topping the North American earnings charts for all trotters. Charmed Life and Hannelore Hanover were voted the Older Trotting Mare finalists. Charmed Life scored 15 top-three finishes in 24 races which included four wins along with $185,000-plus in earnings.  She was a top preferred campaigner and placed in a handful of stakes events. Hannelore Hanover won 17 of 20 races and earned $1.1 million in purses, leading all female trotters in earnings. Her victories included the Breeders Crown Mare Trot and the Hambletonian Maturity, where she defeated male rivals. She also beat the boys in the Centaur Trotting Classic in addition to winning the Armbro Flight Stakes, TVG Series championship for female trotters, Fresh Yankee, Muscle Hill, and Miami Valley Distaff. Her mile time of 1:51 in winning the Armbro Flight equaled the world record for a four-year-old trotting mare. Flanagan Memory and Musical Rhythm are the Older Trotting Horse finalists. Flanagan Memory, a six-year-old son of Kadabra won six of 14 races including the Allerage, and the Breeders Crown Championship, and banked more than $663,000. Musical Rhythm won 12 of 21 starts and purses exceeding $361,000.  He swept both the General Brock Trotting Series and the Don Mills Trotting Series and also won two legs of the Graduate during his four-year-old campaign. In the Armstrong Breeder of the Year category, Marvin Katz (of Toronto, Ont.) and Al Libfeld (of Pickering, Ont.) will be looking to defend their title against Seelster Farms, who won this award in 2006 and 2013. What started as a partnership that focused on buying yearlings and racing horses has evolved into one of harness racing's most respected breeding enterprises for Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. Horses bred by this partnership won 29 races and purses in excess of $1.3 million this season.  Their top horses were O’Brien finalist Ariana G, Princess Aurora and O Narutac Perfecto. Seelster Farms of Lucan, Ont., Canada’s largest commercial breeder,  had horses that won 293 races and more than $3 million this past season.  Their top performers were Mayhem Seelster, Nirvana Seelster and Tessa Seelster. The Future Star Award finalists are Brett MacDonald of Embrun, Ont. and Louis Philippe Roy of Mont-Joli, Que. In just his second season of full-time driving, Brett MacDonald competes regularly at Rideau Carleton Raceway and has driven 100 winners and horses to nearly $500,000 in purse money.  MacDonald finished second in the Quebec / Eastern Ontario Regional Driving Championship to earn his way into the National Driving Championship where he managed a solid fifth place finish. The 2016 season marked the third year that Louis Philippe Roy drove in 100-plus races and he put together some phenomenal numbers, winning 233 races and driving horses to earnings of more than $1 million.  Roy was the leading dash-winning  driver at Hippodrome 3R and currently tops the charts for wins at Rideau Carleton Raceway. One of the 24 horse nominees will be honoured as Canada’s Horse of the Year. The winners will be announced at the O’Brien Awards Gala on Saturday, January 28, 2017, at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ontario. Here is a complete list of nominees and their respective owners: 2016 O’Brien Award Nominees Pacers Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer Idyllic Beach Owned by Christina Takter, East Windsor, NJ – John Fielding, Toronto, ON – Brixton Medical Inc., Matawan, NJ and Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON Yaris Bayama Owned by Bayama Farms Inc., Saint-Andre-D’Argenteuil, QC Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer Beyond Delight Owned by Jeffrey Snyder, Michael Snyder, New York, NY and Four Friends Racing Stable LLC, Moorestown, NJ Sports Column Owned by Hutt Racing Stable, Paoli, PA –Blake MacIntosh, Cambridge, ON –Daniel Plouffe, Bromont, QC   Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer L A Delight Owned by Robert McIntosh Stables Inc., Windsor, ON – CSX Stables, Liberty Center, OH, and Al McIntosh Holdings, Inc., Leamington, ON Pure Country Owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Wellsville, PA Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer Betting Line Owned by West Wins Stable, Cambridge, ON, Christine Calhoun, Chatham, ON and Mac Nichol, Burlington, ON Racing Hill Owned by Tom Hill, Hamilton, ON Older Pacing Mare Lady Shadow Owned by David Kryway, Amherstburg, ON, Carl Atley, Xenia, OH, Ed Gold, Phoenixville, PA and BFJ Stable, Philadelphia, PA Solar Sister Owned by David Willmot, King City, ON & Clay Horner, Toronto, ON Older Pacing Horse Shamballa Owned by Rick Zeron Stables, Oakville, ON – Tao Racing LLC, Pompano Beach, FL –Howard Taylor, Philadelphia, PA – Cool Cat Racing Inc., Flemington, NJ Wiggle It Jiggleit Owned by George Teague Jr Inc., Harrington DE – Teague Racing Partnership, Boynton Beach, FL Trotters Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter Ariana G Owned by Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON & Al Libfeld, Pickering, ON Magic Presto Owned by Melvin Hartman, Ottawa, ON – Herb Liverman, Miami Beach – David Mc Duffee, Delray Beach, FL – Little E LLC, New York, NY Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter Mass Production Owned by Rick Zeron Stables, Oakville, ON- James Walker, Port Perry, ON- Bruno Dipoce, Wasaga Beach, ON and Rene Allard, Matamoras, PA Seven And Seven Owned by June Durand- Tom Durand, Puslinch, ON & Allan Smith, Oakville, ON Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter Caprice Hill Owned by Tom Hill, Hamilton, ON Emoticon Hanover Owned by Determination, Montreal, QC Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter Bar Hopping Owned by Christina Takter, East Windsor, NJ- Hatfield Stables, Columbus, OH – Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON & Al Libfeld, Pickering, ON Marion Marauder Owned by Marion Jean Wellwood, Stratford, ON & Devin Keeling, Cambridge, ON Older Trotting Mare Charmed Life Owned by Allard Racing Inc., Saint-Esprit – Yves Sarrazin, La Presentation, QC-VIP Internet Stable LLC, Piscataway, NJ Hannelore Hanover Owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown – Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Canonsburg, PA – Frank Baldachino, Clarksburg, NJ – J And T Silva Stables LLC, Long Beach, NY Older Trotting Horse Flanagan Memory Owned by Liette Flanagan, Repentigny – Rene Dion, Saint-Lazare, QC Musical Rhythm Owned by Santo Vena, Brampton – Nunzio Vena, Bolton, ON – Claude Hamel, Ayer’s Cliff, QC – Ben Baillargeon, Guelph, ON People Awards O’Brien Award of Horsemanship Travis Cullen, Rockton, ON Rick Zeron, Oakville, ON Armstrong Breeder of the Year Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON / Al Libfeld, Pickering, ON Seelster Farms, Lucan, ON Driver of the Year Sylvain Filion, Milton, ON Bob McClure, Elora, ON Trainer of the Year Casie Coleman, Cambridge, ON Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON Future Star Award Brett MacDonald, Embrun, ON Louis Philippe Roy, Mont-Joli, QC

Columbus, OH --- When an harness racing O’Brien Award winner becomes available for purchase most people would not hesitate to sign their name on the dotted line. Howard Taylor, however, had to be persuaded to place his name on the check to buy a piece of harness racing mare Lady Shadow. “I thought she was too expensive,” he said. “That is when I called up Ed Gold and asked him what he thought. He said she was worth it and even if she did not race well she was worth what they were asking in residual value as a broodmare. “Also, I already owned a filly, Sudoku, that had beat Lady Shadow up in Canada. I felt she was much faster and we thought we could win the Jugette with her, but we had some problems keeping her head together and eventually bred her. If it wasn’t for Ed, I don’t think I would have bought into Lady Shadow.” Co-owned by Taylor's BFJ Stable, Gold, Carl Atley and David Kryway, the daughter of Shadow Play and the Camluck mare Lady Camella was Canada’s 3-year-old pacing filly champion and is the reigning champion older mare in that nation. It appears she is on her way to collecting another divisional title, as the 5-year-old places her five-race winning streak on the line in the $200,000 Artiscape at Tioga Downs on Sunday (Aug. 28). Lady Shadow, who is conditioned by Ron Adams, will commence her journey from post three and will have the services of Yannick Gingras. Her task, however, will not be a simple one as the field includes Dan Patch Award winners Venus Delight (post two), Anndrovette (post five) and Divine Caroline (post eight). Other rivals of note in the contest are fellow Canadian champion Solar Sister (post 10) and the always competitive Devil Child (post nine). “The plan this year was to keep her down here with Josh Green,” Taylor said. “He was the one that found her for us, but he called me up and suggested Ron Adams take her because he just could not get her to go. We put her in the Blue Chip Matchmaker series (at Yonkers) and thought she would be tough to beat, but she did not do well (seventh in the final). Then Josh put her in the Chip Noble (at Miami Valley) where she was seventh again. That is when he suggested the change. I have to give him credit for admitting she was not working out for him and she was fifth in her first start for Ron, but since then she has been rolling along.” Lady Shadow has been a model of consistency throughout her career. As a 2- and 3-year-old she was in Gregg McNair’s barn and earned $189,892 and $259,635, respectively. She was also trained by McNair until being purchased by her new connections in May of last year. Lady Shadow collected $286,034 last season, while under the care of Adams in 11 of her 14 starts, en route to championship honors. “I need to learn to listen to Ed more often,” Taylor said. “I was concerned about her price and then right after we got her she went out and won the Roses Are Red final. She paid for herself within weeks of us having her.” Since switching her home base from the United States to Canada this spring, Lady Shadow has been absolutely stellar. She won her second Roses Are Red title in June, then added the $229,900 Golden Girls to her resume in a world record 2:00.3 clocking (1-1/8th mile distance) which lowered the standard Always B Miki had established earlier on the card. She then captured the $235,950 Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day, where it appeared she would draw off to another facile victory, but Solar Sister possessed another plan and came on late to make it interesting in the end. Ultimately, Lady Shadow, with more than $1.16 million in the bank, prevailed. To prepare for her journey to Western New York, the mare qualified in 1:52.2 on Aug. 19 at Mohawk Racetrack. “She still has a long season left of racing and is staked to everything,” Taylor said. “The end goal is, of course, the Breeders Crown and we are hoping she has another championship season, which it seems at this point, she is right in the hunt for divisional honors. “I’m not sure what it is about Canada that agrees with her, because with her being stabled up there it will involve more shipping for her, which was why we wanted her down here with Josh, but for some reason being with Ron and being in that stall in that barn is what she wants to do. If that is what makes her happy we are all for it and like I keep saying this is one of the many times I’m really glad I called Ed Gold.” Below is the field for the $200,000  Artiscape. PP-Horse-Sire-Driver-Trainer 1. Empress Deo - Rocknroll Hanover - Jonathan Roberts-Wayne Givens 2. Venus Delight - Bettor's Delight - Jason Bartlett-Jeffrey Bamond Jr. 3. Lady Shadow - Shadow Play - Yannick Gingras-Ronald Adams 4. Regil Elektra - Mark Three - Mark MacDonald-Keith Armer 5. Anndrovette - Riverboat King - Tim Tetrick-Jeffrey Bamond Jr. 6. Stacia Hanover - Western Ideal - Brett Miller-Steve Elliott 7. Table Talk - Bettor's Delight - Andy Miller-W. Bart Dalious 8. Divine Caroline - Rock N Roll Heaven - Corey Callahan-Joe Holloway 9. Devil Child - American Ideal - David Miller-Chris Oakes 10. Solar Sister - Mach Three - Douglas McNair-Gregg McNair by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor 

Harness racing owner Hans Enggren will watch Sunday as his 5-year-old trotter Resolve competes in Sweden's famed Elitloppet at Solvalla Raceway. It has been more than three decades since Enggren can recall having a horse in the elite race, but the thought of his previous attempt to win it with a horse named Spirits Supreme triggers an amusing anecdote which could have started with the line, "A man walks into a bar with a horse." The bar, located in Gettysburg, Pa., near Enggren's adopted hometown of Abbottstown, was owned by Enggren and renamed in honor of Spirits Supreme, who raced in the 1983 Elitloppet. One day, Enggren decided to show off the horse to the establishment's patrons. "To everyone's delight, I brought Spirits Supreme right into the bar," the 86-year-old Enggren said, laughing, "and he gracefully baptized it, I guess you would call it." Spirits Supreme was unsuccessful in his attempt for an Elitloppet victory, not to mention barroom etiquette, but Enggren is hopeful that Resolve can get him to the winner's circle. Resolve, who received the 2015 O'Brien Award for the best older male trotter to compete in Canada, races in the first of two Elitloppet eliminations. The top four finishers from each division advance to the same-day final. Resolve is trained by two-time Elitloppet winner Ake Svanstedt, who also will drive the stallion. Five-year-old stallion Nuncio, whose success in the U.S. at ages 2 and 3 included victories in the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot, competes in the second elimination and is the 2-1 favorite to win the event according to online oddsmakers. Since turning 4, Nuncio has raced in Europe for owner/trainer Stefan Melander. He finished third in the 2015 Elitloppet, which was won by Magic Tonight. Resolve, who will start his elimination from post No. 2, is the fourth choice in the pre-race odds, at 12-1. Timoko, who won the 2014 Elitloppet, is 7-1 and Propulsion is 8-1. Timoko and Propulsion, who raced in the States for trainer Tony Alagna at ages 3 and 4, are in the same elimination as Resolve. Defending champion Magic Tonight, who raced in the U.S. for trainer Noel Daley in his early years, is in the second elimination and will start from post seven. He is 41-1. "I'm very excited," said Enggren, a native of Sweden who moved to the U.S. in 1952. "I know a lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble to get the horse there and to get me there. It will be nice to meet some old friends and see Resolve race. I know Nuncio has been declared a pretty strong favorite, but I have high hopes for Resolve. "I think an awful lot of my trainer. According to comments I've seen in the Swedish papers, they feel like I feel --- that Svanstedt has improved the horse tremendously." Enggren, perhaps best known as the breeder and owner of 1985 Hambletonian winner Prakas as well as heading Meadowbranch Farms, bought Resolve in July 2014. Last year, Resolve won four of 13 races and hit the board a total of 12 times on his way to $700,938. His wins included the TVG Free For All Series championship and an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot. He finished second in the Maple Leaf Trot final, as well as the Breeders Crown Open Trot and Hambletonian Maturity. This year, Resolve is officially winless in two starts, although he did get to the finish line first in the Mack Lobell Elitloppet Playoff on May 8 at the Meadowlands only to be disqualified for going inside several pylons in the stretch. Despite the missteps, the connections received an Elitloppet invitation. Resolve is the lone U.S.-owned horse in the race. "It would mean a lot," Enggren said about the possibility of winning the race, which he has attended numerous times over the years. "I was brought up in Sweden with horses in the late '30s, early '40s. I always was very closely attached to Solvalla. As a kid, I was there a lot. If we were to win, it would be truly amazing. I have promised everybody here that I'm not going to cry if they take pictures." Is it a promise Enggren thinks he can keep? "We'll see," he said, adding with a laugh, "Perhaps I will wear very black glasses." Ken Weingartner

LUCAN, Ontario . . . Seelster Farms today announced that the harness racing Dan Patch and O’Brien Award winning Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year,  Wheeling N Dealin, is the latest addition to their stallion roster for 2016.   Wheeling N Dealin enjoyed a spectacular freshman season during which time he never tasted defeat in nine starts. He swept the Bridger Series, won the Champlain in a season’s best 1:55, captured the elim and final of the William Wellwood Memorial and concluded the season with a sweep of the Breeders Crown.   He was the overwhelming choice as the best two-year-old trotting colt of the year in Canada and the US winning the O’Brien and Dan Patch Awards.   As a sophomore, Wheeling N Dealin started in the three toughest races for his group, the Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic and the Kentucky Futurity. In the first, he finished second in his elimination timed in 1:53.1 and, in the second, he was a close third in his elim and fourth in the final.   Wheeling N Dealin concluded his racing career late this summer at Mohawk, winning his final two starts including a life best 1:54 performance. He retires to the Seelster Farms’ breeding shed with $913,000 in earnings.   In addition to his talent on track, Wheeling N Dealin also possesses a deep pedigree. His sire is the great Cantab Hall, a winner of $1.5 million in his racing career and the sire of such standouts as Father Patrick ($2.6 million), Wild Honey ($1.6 million), Explosive Matter ($1.5 million), etc.   Wheeling N Dealin’s dam is the multiple stakes winner Quick Credit who won more than $553,000 and has also produced Sugar Wheeler ($354,000).   The introductory fee for Wheeling N Dealin is $4,000. For further information, please see seelsterfarms.com or call (519) 227-4294.   2012 Breeder's Crown     2012 Bridger Final     2012 Champlain Stakes     2012 William Wellwood Final  

Last year undefeated JK She’salady was voted Horse of the Year in Canada with 45% of the vote. The winner of the Shes A Great Lady, Three Diamonds and Eternal Camnation, all held in Ontario, stood out from the pack, and she certainly met all the qualifications for the award, but the owner—3 Brothers Stables—consists of three brothers from New York, the trainer, Nancy Johansson, is based in New Jersey, and the horse was bred in New York, so her Canadian credentials weren’t strong enough for some. As a result, the Casie Coleman trainee, McWicked, whose only stakes win in Canada was a Cup elimination, received 11 votes to the filly’s 19.  So when there isn’t a standout Canadian based trotter or pacer, handicapping the Horse of the Year contest up North can be tricky. In 2013 undefeated Bee A Magician won the award in a landslide with 81% of the vote. She took the Elegantimage, Casual Breeze, Simcoe and Super Gold Final in Ontario that year. The Kadabra filly also received 78% of the vote for the Dan Patch, so she was admired with equal fervor on both sides of the border. BAM is by an Ontario stallion, handled by a Canadian based trainer and owned by Canadians. In 2012 Jug winner Michaels Power was voted Horse of the Year in Canada. He also won the Confederation Cup, a split of the SBSW, the Upper Canada Cup and three Gold legs. He was trained by Casie Coleman and driven by Scott Zeron. Jeffrey Snyder, from the US, owns the gelding. Michaels Power received 44% of the vote. The undefeated freshman trotter, Wheeling N Dealin, garnered 25%. The latter raced exclusively in Canada as a two-year-old, winning nine times, including the BC, Wellwood and Champlain. He’s Pennsylvania bred, but otherwise of Canadian origin. And in 2011 San Pail, who had a career year, won in Canada with 92% of the vote, and he was designated the Dan Patch winner in the US with 80%. The eleven-year-old is Canadian from head to tail. So what horse will win in 2015? It certainly isn’t a San Pail 2011 or BAM 2013 kind of year. For instance, none of the eligible, viable candidates made a season ending splash in the BC, Matron, Final Four or TVG. The 2013 winner Bee A Magician, who leads all North American aged trotters in earnings, may be the first ever to rule the roost more than once in Canada while not doing so in consecutive years. SBSW is the only horse to win consecutive O’Briens, although he finished in a dead heat with Tell All the first time. Armbro Flight is the only three time pre-O’Brien winner; Handle With Care and Fan Hanover are the mares that won twice. BAM won the highest profile open trot in Canada, the Maple Leaf, as well as the top mare’s open, the Armbro Flight. She also beat the boys in the Cutler, Charlie Hill and Centaur down South. After D’One beat her in the Fresh Yankee and Muscle Hill, and won the Allerage Mare and BC Mare, it looked like that one might take the Dan Patch from BAM, but D’One went back to Sweden prior to the TVG Mare. BAM is a prime candidate. On the other hand, perhaps we’ll have back to back freshman fillies occupying that slot, for the first time ever in Canada. Armbro Ranger and Jade Prince each won consecutively, fifteen years prior to the inception of the O’Brien awards, but never two fillies. LA Delight raced exclusively in Ontario; won 11 of 12 starts; is second to BC winner Pure Country in divisional earnings; won the Great Lady and splits of the Eternal Camnation and Champlain; won three OSS Gold legs and the Super Final; is trained and owned by the iconic Bob McIntosh; is driven by Randy Waples; and was sired by on again off again OSS stallion Bettor’s Delight. What’s not to like? She didn’t race past the Super Final, missing the BC, Matron and Three Diamonds, so she won’t beat out Pure Country for the Dan Patch in her division, but she will be voted the top freshman pacing filly in Canada. With each passing year racing becomes more Balkanized, and one manifestation of that is that fewer and fewer of the top fillies travel to the WEG circuit for the Grand Circuit stakes. That was the case again this year. This may serve as a detriment in her battle for the Dan Patch divisional title, but won’t impact her quest for division honors in Canada. It may hurt her in the Horse of the Year vote, however. Three fillies: Trixton’s mama, Emile Cas El; Whenuwishuponastar; and JK She’salady have been voted O’Brien Horse of the Year awards. And Armbro Flight, Handle With Care and Fan Hanover won it prior to the establishment of the O’Brien Awards in 1989. Freshman pacer Control The Moment won 8 of 9 starts, including the Metro and Nassagaweya and is the fastest two-year-old among the top ten on the money list from that class. However, he finished sixth in the BC and didn’t go on from there. His Canadian connections are solid and he made all his starts up there, but being by Well Said he has no record of achievement in the OSS. LA Delight is a more likely choice among the juvenile set. What about the rest of the competition? State Treasurer had a great year, winning 9 of 11 starts at the highest level and earning a division leading $866,000, but the bottom fell out in Lexington and he was beaten soundly by Miki on his home turf in the BC. A division O’Brien? Yes. Horse of the Year? No. It’s tough to overcome a subpar fall season in the awards game. Southwind Frank had three wins in Ontario, including the BC, but he may not even take his division. The Kadabra colt Tony Soprano was very strong in the OSS with a win in the Super Final as well as three Gold legs. He has no GC resume, but Bob McIntosh trains him and owns a piece as well, and Randy Waples and John Campbell drive. The first foal of Windsong Soprano doesn’t merit Horse of the Year consideration, but due to the quirky nature of the O’Brien voting, the division may be his. Poor Frank. Tony’s paternal sister, Caprice Hill, was another demon in the OSS, winning her Super Final and three Gold legs for Tony Alagna. Yannick, Tim and Randy drove. Overall she won 7 of 10 starts and earned a nifty $454,000. She was bred by Hanover, but her owner, Tom Hill, is Canadian and she’s by Kadabra. Again, division? Yes. The Mach Three sophomore Solar Sister had a very good year, winning the Super Final, three Gold legs and the SBOA Classic for the McNairs. She earned $435,000 on 8 wins in 16 starts overall. An O’Brien for her division? Maybe. HOY? No. I say maybe because her paternal sister Wrangler Magic also had a good year. She was unusual in that she was better on the GC than she was in the OSS. Wrangler Magic won the Fan Hanover and the Simcoe, but she was only 2 for 6 in the OSS. The Simcoe was her only win after July 2 and she didn’t get past her BC elimination, so she probably won’t even win her division. Tony O’Sullivan’s mercurial Muscle Mass filly, Muscle Baby Doll, won a split of the Casual Breeze and 3 of 5 starts in the OSS program. A tenth place finish in her Super Final didn’t help. Mission Brief won the Elegantimage and the elimination for that one, but she lost in the BC, while Wild Honey took the BC, but finished second in the Elegantimage final and elimination. Again, Ron Burke describes Mission Brief as the best horse he ever trained, but the O’Brien Awards are different. Reverend Hanover didn’t race enough and Twin B Thong was stuck behind LA Delight. She won 10 times in 15 starts for $337,000 and won in 1:52. Doug McNair drove. So it should come down to Bee A Magician or LA Delight. BAM will win a Dan Patch and an O’Brien in her division, while the Bettor’s Delight filly will win an O’Brien. BAM could have locked up Horse of the Year honors with a BC win, in either division, but she finished fourth in the open. Shake It Cerry then beat her in the TVG Mare. And LA Delight probably could have put herself in position to win if she beat Pure Country in the BC, but she wasn’t staked to it. The same goes for the Three Diamonds and the Matron. Like I said, this is not a San Pail 2011 or BAM 2013 year. The O'Brien’s are whacky awards in that there are so many ancillary factors that play a part in choosing the winners. Tough to get inside those Canadian minds. by Joe FitzGerald for Harnesslink Joe FitzGerald has been an avid harness racing fan and historian for the last half-century. He writes a weekly blog for  http://viewfromthegrandstand.blogspot.com/. Joe’s commentary reflects his own views and not that of Harnesslink.  

CAMPBELLVILLE, May 28 - Harness racing trainer John Bax is no stranger to success, having collected nearly $20 million in lifetime earnings. On Saturday evening, the veteran conditioner will be looking to add another win to his collection with Stubborn Belle in the $129,661 WEG-S.B.O.A Final for three-year-old filly trotters at Mohawk Racetrack. Her first start of the season came in the eliminations a week prior, with an impressive win in 1:55.2. "I was real happy with her," said Bax. "I think it was a good tightener for her, we've got the inside (in the S.B.O.A. final) so I'm hoping she'll be just one race better. Touch wood, hopefully she stays healthy." The daughter of Taurus Dream spent her winter across the border before returning to the track, fresh and ready for her sophomore campaign. "She enjoyed Florida as much as I did! She's come back pretty good, a few hiccups here and there. She can be a bit hard on herself so we've got the odd bump and bruise. Despite that, I think she's getting back to where she needs to be." According to Bax, his trainee can certainly put the "stubborn" in "Stubborn Belle" and though somewhat calmer as a three-year-old, she still considers herself to be the boss. Heading into the final, she'll be looking to prove it to a strong field. "I think she's got as good a chance as any. Obviously I'm hoping for a win but I think she looks good in there. There's a couple new horses coming out of the woodwork and I'm sure they're going to be heard from." Bill Budd's Meadow Seelster certainly made herself known last week, finishing a strong second to Stubborn Belle after making a break at the start. Since returning to the track in 2015, she's continued to trot faster with each start. Another one to watch will be Second Sister as she looks to build upon her gate-to-wire 1:55 win in the second WEG-S.B.O.A elimination for Team McNair. "The three-year-old year, you always have to step up," said Bax. "It's a long year so I won't read too much into one race, but I'm looking forward to a good three-year-old season with her." In 2014, Stubborn Belle picked up another win off the track, capturing the O'Brien Award for Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly to cap off a season with earnings in excess of $500,000. She edged out fellow nominee Danielle Hall, who broke stride early in her elimination, rallying for sixth and the also eligible position in Saturday's event. "I felt disappointed for Carl (Jamieson)," said Bax. "It would have been nice if he could have gotten a good start in her somewhere. That's the problem with making all that money as a two-year-old, it's hard to put a horse in for their first start back and get a race where they don't get beat up by older horses. "I'm sure it's just a blip, (Danielle Hall) is a nice mare. She always liked to beat the good ones." Stubborn Belle will be headed next to Ontario Sires Stakes action and Bax has Grand Circuit events such as the Casual Breeze and Elegantimage stakes also on her radar. "I'm hopeful she'll be good enough for the Hambletonian Oaks in August. There's lots of racing for her, it's a long season so you don't want to stretch them out too much too early. It's going to be a good year." Saturday night's card at Mohawk will be highlighted by the WEG-S.B.O.A finals for both three-year-old filly trotters and pacers. The $129,661 final for trotting fillies is carded as Race 3, while the $127,661 final for sophomore pacing fillies will take place as Race 6. Post time is 7:25 p.m. Hannah Beckett for WEG Communications  

The London region is home to four of this year’s harness racing inductees to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.   The hall was established in 1976 and has a ceremony each year to honour those who have made a substantial contribution to harness racing and thoroughbred horse racing.   The late London writer Harry  Eisen is an honouree this year, along with the late St. Thomas thoroughbred breeder and owner Bob Anderson, Woodstock standardbred driver and trainer Bill Gale and broodmare J Cs Nathalie, owned by John Lamers of Ingersoll.   The induction ceremony will take place in Mississauga on August 5.   Harry Eisen Eisen loved the sport and was a pioneer of horse racing journalism in Ontario, spending most of his career at The London Free Press.   His column, Mostly About Horses was widely read.   The tales about Eisen were legendary as he was also a handicapper of extraordinary ability.   He was well known at the tracks across Ontario.   Eisen once said he went to his first horse race when he was only three or four years old. He sold tip sheets at Dufferin Park Racetrack as a youngster.   He was inducted to the Western Fair Raceway Hall of Fame in 1980, the first non-horseperson to be inducted.   Bob Anderson He was a longtime owner of Anderson Farms in St. Thomas and was involved with breeding, racing and selling both thoroughbred and standardbred horses for more than 40 years.   He bred and matured over 1,400 horses including champions Pinafore Park, Larkwhistle, and Prince Avatar. Some of the sires he bred included Ascot Knight, National Assembly and Alydeed.   Anderson once told me the secret to success is to pay for quality. "I very seldom regretted buying quality. Sometimes it's worth reaching a little bit."   Bill Gale He was a leading driver in Canada for a three-decade period, beginning in the 1970s.   He had 16 consecutive seasons earning more than $1 million.   Gale won many big races including a pair of Breeders Crown championships. He drove King Conch to a World Record 1:56.2 in the two-year-old trotting colt category.   In 1991, Gale won an O’Brien Award as Canada’s top driver.   J Cs Nathalie Owned by John Lamers of Ingersoll, this mare produced two million-dollar earners - Dreamfair Vogel and Dreamfair Eternal.   J Cs Nathalie will join her daughter, Dreamfair Eternal, in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.   Dreamfair  Eternal won an O’Brien as Canada’s horse of the year in 2010 and received her induction to the hall last year.   J Cs Nathalie has produced 13 horses and 11 of them together have banked more than $4.5 million in purse earnings.   Courtesy of CTV News - London

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