Standardbred Canada is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2020 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season.
There are two finalists in each ‘category which includes 12 divisional horse categories and five people awards. Horse of the Year will be one of the divisional champions.
The winners will be announced at the Virtual O’Brien Awards Gala on Sunday, January 31 on standardbredcanada.ca.
This will mark the 32nd 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.
Richard Moreau will be looking to add a record eighth O’Brien trophy to his mantle in the Trainer of the Year Category and is up against Ben Baillargeon of Guelph, Ont., a first-time nominee.
Baillargeon is enjoying a career-best season, training horses that posted 123 victories and banked more than $2.9 million in earnings including O’Brien finalist PL Jill in the Older Trotting Mare category.
Richard Moreau of Puslinch, Ont. has earned seven consecutive titles as Canada’s Trainer of the Year. To date in 2020, he has sent 236 winners postward and trained horses to more than $3.6 million in earnings including O’Brien finalist Lit De Rose in the Older Pacing Mare Category. Moreau, one of the country’s busiest trainers with more than 1,582 races to his credit, has topped the Canadian earnings charts for trainers for several years and was the leading money earning trainer at Woodbine Mohawk Park and Georgian Downs during 2020.
Bob McClure and Doug McNair, the top two money-earning drivers in the country are the Driver of the Year finalists.
Bob McClure of Rockwood, Ont., is en route to a career-best season in the earnings column, and is the leading money winning driver in Canada. He recently eclipsed the $7 million mark, an impressive addition to his resume and has also made 229 trips to the winner’s circle. McClure, a finalist in this category in 2016, 2018 and 2019.was the regular driver for five O’Brien finalists – Donna Soprano, Lauras Love, Lawless Shadow, Macho Martini and Tattoo Artist. McClure was also the winner of the prestigious Lampman Cup as the Ontario Sires Stakes’ leading driver this past season.
The winner of Driver of the Year honours in 2017, Doug McNair of Guelph, Ont. is having one of his best years with 283 winners and more than $6.2 million in earnings. He was the regular reinsman for two O’Brien finalists – Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly Karma Seelster and Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly, Warrawee Vicky.
Gilles Barrieau and Kelly Hoerdt are the finalists for the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship and are both past winners in this category.
Two-time Horsemanship winner and defending champion, Gilles Barrieau of Saint John, N.B., competes on the Atlantic Provinces circuit and to date this season, he’s trained 44 winners and horses to more than $227,000 in purse earnings while boasting a UTRS of .552. On the driving side, he has 170 winners and more than $485,000 in earnings, giving him a .411 UDRS.
Kelly Hoerdt of Beaumont, Alta., won the Horsemanship Award in 2013. This year, the Alberta-based trainer-driver has trained 152 winners and horses to more than $860,000 in earnings, while driving 163 winners and horses that earned more than $895,000.
So Much More dominated the Fillies & Mares Preferred Ranks at Woodbine Mohawk Park, winning 12 of 30 starts and eclipsing $300,000 in earnings during her season. On July 25, she
Caviart Audrey and Scarlett Hanover, both daughters of Bettors Delight, are the nominees in the Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly division. Caviart Audrey won five of nine races and more than $372,000 in her rookie campaign which included victories in the Eternal Camnation, Champlain, an elimination and final of the Shes A Great Lady.
Scarlett Hanover posted 11 top-three finishes from 14 starts and earned more than $449,000. She won two Ontario Sires Stakes events including the Super Final and also competed against Grand Circuit company, scoring a season’s best 1:51.3 victory in the Champlain Stakes and winning an elimination of the Shes A Great Lady.
A pair of Shadow Play colts, Bulldog Hanover and Lawless Shadow, are the finalists in the Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt division.
Bulldog Hanover won four of six races, all Ontario Sires Stakes events including the season ending Super Final and more than $248,000 in 2020.
Lawless Shadow hit the board in eight of nine races, including four wins in his rookie campaign and topped $307,000 in purse earnings. He scored two victories in Ontario Sires Stakes events, a win in the Nassagaweya, runner-up finishes in a Metro elimination and OSS Super Final and a third-place finish in the Metro Final.
In the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly division, Ontario-breds Lauras Love and Karma Seelster will compete for O’Brien honours.
Unraced as a two-year-old, the Betterthancheddar filly, Lauras Love was a model of consistency in 2020, scoring 16 top-three finishes, including eight victories from 20 races, and earning $331,000 for her connections. In addition to a victory in an Ontario Sires Stakes event, she scored multiple victories in overnight competition and also won a division of the Simcoe against Grand Circuit company.
The Sportswriter filly Karma Seelster had three wins and nine top three finishes in 15 races and earned more than $277,000. She added a win in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold event and a sweep of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association Stake (SBOA) to her resume.
Major Custard and Tattoo Artist are the Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt finalists.
Major Custard was almost invincible this season, winning 15 of 16 races and earning more than $237,000 while competing on the Western Provinces Circuit which included Fraser Downs in B.C. and Century Downs and Century Mile in Alberta. The Alberta-bred son of Custard The Dragon scored victories in the Alberta Sires Stakes, the Ralph Klein, the Maverick, the Robert Murphy Stakes, the Western Canada Pacing Derby and the Brad Gunn Stake.
Tattoo Artist, a son of Hes Watching, won eight of 17 starts and more than $666,000 this season with victories in five Ontario Sires Stakes events, and a division of the Simcoe Stakes. One of his biggest efforts was a runner-up finish in the $1 million North America Cup.
Lit De Rose and So Much More are finalists in the Older Pacing Mare category.
Lit De Rose boasted 14 top-three finishes from 18 starts and earned more than $169,000. Primarily a Fillies & Mares Preferred campaigner, the daughter of Leader Bayama scored an impressive runner-up finish in the Milton Stake Final.
So Much More dominated the Fillies & Mares Preferred Ranks at Woodbine Mohawk Park, winning 12 of 30 starts and eclipsing $300,000 in earnings during her season. On July 25, she scored a career best 1:49.3 lifetime best at Woodbine Mohawk Park and put together a three-race win streak in October.
Century Farroh and Sintra are the Older Pacing Horse finalists.
Century Farroh is looking for his second consecutive O’Brien trophy, after being voted Canada’s Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year in 2019. Competing as a four-year-old, the son of Mach Three scored 12 top-three finishes in 16 starts and more than $637,000 in earnings. His stakes victories included the Breeders Crown and the Dan Patch.
Sintra is also looking to secure his second O’Brien trophy in this category after winning it in 2017. In 2020 the son of Mach Three scored 15 top-three finishes, including nine wins, in 22 starts and bankrolled $249,531 for his connections. Competing primarily in the Preferred ranks at Woodbine Mohawk Park, he most recently scored three consecutive wins at Mohawk.
Donna Soprano and Imextraspecial will compete for Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly honours. Donna Soprano won five of seven races and more than $575,000 for her connections which included sweeps of the Pure Ivory and Peaceful Way Stakes, a win in a Champlain division and an impressive runner-up finish in the inaugural edition of the Mohawk Million.
Imextraspecial won five of 10 races and more than $223,000 in her rookie campaign, which was highlighted by five victories in Ontario Sires Stakes events.
In the Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt division, stablemates Macho Martini and On A Streak are the finalists. Trained by Luc Blais for Determination of Montreal, Que., these two colts topped the rookie trotting colt charts in 2020. The Muscle Mass colt Macho Martini was a winner of eight of 11 starts and $454,000, scoring victories in four Ontario Sires Stakes events, the Millard Farm elimination and final, a Champlain division and an elimination of the William Wellwood Memorial Stake.
On A Streak had only two wins in 10 starts, but they were both very lucrative ones. His maiden-breaking effort came in the $525,000 William Wellwood Stakes which was worth $267,500 and a spot in the inaugural Mohawk Million, where he finished a solid third. His second victory came in the Breeders Crown, and was worth $300,000. In total the Cantab Hall colt earned in excess of $850,000 for his season which also included a runner-up finish in the Valley Victory.
Sorella and Warrawee Vicky are the finalists in the Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly division.
Sorella won eight of 15 races and $737,000 including victories in the Reynolds, the Hambletonian Oaks, the Casual Breeze, the Bluegrass and the Matron.
Warrawee Vicky scored four wins in 12 starts and banked more than $230,000. Three of those wins came in the Ontario Sires Stakes events and the fourth was in a Simcoe division.
Pemberton and Ready For Moni will compete for Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt honours.
Pemberton, a son of Wheeling N Dealin, won eight of 10 races and earned more than $363,000 for his sophomore season. Four of his victories came in Ontario Sires Stakes events including the season-ending Super Final.
The aptly-named Ready For Moni boasted a bankroll in excess of $646,000 for his sophomore season which included five wins in 11 starts. His season was highlighted by a sweep of the Goodtimes, victories in the Zweig Memorial and Stanley Dancer, and a runner-up finish in the Hambletonian.
In the Older Trotting Mare category, Hey Livvy and PL Jill are the finalists.
Hey Livvy won nine races and more than $278,000 in 22 trips postward, highlighted by her richest payday, an impressive victory in the Armbro Flight.
PL Jill was a consistent performer in the Preferred trotting ranks at Woodbine Mohawk Park, winning nine of 25 starts and banking more than $241,000. Her biggest payday came in the Earl Rowe Stake where she got up for a head victory.
On The Ropes and Perfetto are finalists in the Older Trotting Horse Category.
On The Ropes won six races and $142,000 during his five-year-old campaign and all of his 34 starts took place at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Perfetto won seven of 24 races and $149,000 while also making all but one start at Mohawk.
This year marks the eighth year for the Future Star Award, with two P.E.I. natives competing as finalists. Rachel Andrew, of Dundas, Ont., and Austin Sorrie who resides in Freelton, Ont., both posted some impressive stats this season.
Andrew, trained 51 winners and horses to more than $434,000 in earnings in just her third year of full-time training.
This marks the second consecutive year that Sorrie is a finalist in this category. The young reinsman was in demand on the Ontario B Track circuit in 2020, driving in more than 1,155 races, scoring 143 wins and driving horses to more than $874,000 in purse earnings.
Seelster Farms and Warrawee Farm are finalists in the Armstrong Breeder of the Year Category.
Three-time Breeder of the Year Seelster Farms of Lucan, Ont., won this award in 2006, 2013, and 2018.
In 2020, horses bred by Seelster won 239 races and earned more than $3.3 million. Top performers included O’Brien finalists Lawless Shadow and Karma Seelster along with Tokyo Seelster.
Horses bred by Rockwood, Ont.-based Warrawee Farm won 41 races and earned more than $1 million in 2020, including O’Brien finalist Warrawee Vicky. Other top performers included Warrawee Vital and Warrawee Ubeaut.
One of the winners in the divisional categories will be awarded the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year title.
The winners will be announced at the 2020 Virtual O’Brien Awards Gala on Sunday, January 31, 2021, which will be video streamed on standardbredcanada.ca.
A complete list of finalists follows below.
2020 O’Brien Award Finalists
Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly
- Caviart Audrey
Caviart Farms, Vienna, VA
- Scarlett Hanover
Burke Racing Stable LLC, Fredericktown, PA – Frank Baldachino, Clarksburg, NJ – J and T Silva Purnel & Libby, Delray Beach, FL – Weaver Bruscemi Llc, Canonsburg, PA
Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt
- Bulldog Hanover
Jack Darling Stables Ltd., Cambridge, ON
- Lawless Shadow
Dr. Ian Moore, Cambridge, ON – R G McGroup Ltd., Bathurst, NB- Serge Savard, St-Bruno, QC – Frank Cannon, Sanford, FL
Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly
- Karma Seelster
Eileen & Keith Waples – Karen Hauver, Durham, ON
- Lauras Love
John Pentland, London, ON – Gracie Mae Barr, Thamesford, ON
Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt
- Major Custard
JJJ Stables, Prince George – Jim Marino, Surrey, BC
- Tattoo Artist
Frank Cannon, Sanford – Let It Ride Stables Inc., Boca Raton, FL
Older Pacing Mare
- Lit De Rose
Guy Corbeil, Mirabel, QC
- So Much More
Don Beatson, Granton – Ken Beatson, Palgrave – Cole England, Exeter, ON
Older Pacing Horse
- Century Farroh
Ratchford Stable NS, North Sydney, NS
Michael Guerriero, Brampton – Kelly Waxman, Carlisle- Nunzio Vena, Bolton & Frank Cirillo, Kleinburg, ON
Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly
- Donna Soprano
Determination, Montreal, QC
Keith Coulter, Mono, ON
Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt
- Macho Martini
Determination, Montreal, QC
- On A Streak
Determination, Montreal, QC
Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly
Elmer Fannin, Lincoln, DE – Crawford Farms Racing, Syracuse, NY – Brent Fannin, Milford, DE
- Warrawee Vicky
Brad Grant, Milton, ON
Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt
Brenda Walker, Owen Sound – Christine Walker, Tara, ON
- Ready For Moni
John Fielding, Toronto, ON – Lindy Farms of Conn, Enfield, CT – Herb Liverman, Miami Beach, FL – Bud Hatfield, Columbus, OH
Older Trotting Mare
- Hey Livvy
Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Wallkill – Ellen Ott, Buffalo, NY- Trevor Henry, Arthur, ON
- PL Jill
Prince Lee Acres, Uxbridge, ON -Jill Coleman, New York, NY -Alan Christensen, Calgary, AB
Older Trotting Horse
- On The Ropes
Percy Elkins, Milton, ON
Gerald Haggerty, Camden East, ON
O’Brien Award of Horsemanship
- Gilles Barrieau, Saint John, NB
- Kelly Hoerdt, Beaumont, AB
Armstrong Breeder of the Year
- Seelster Farms, Lucan, ON
- Warrawee Farm, Rockwood, ON
Driver of the Year
- Bob McClure, Rockwood, ON
- Doug McNair, Guelph, ON
Trainer of the Year
- Ben Baillargeon, Guelph, ON
- Richard Moreau, Puslinch, ON
Future Star Award
- Rachel Andrew, Dundas, ON
- Austin Sorrie, Freelton, ON