Wednesday, 29 December 2021 13:28

2021 Media Excellence Awards Finalists

2021 Media Excellence Awards Finalists Coady Photo/Ryan Haynes

Standardbred Canada is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2021 Media Excellence Awards, sponsored by Ontario Racing for the sixth consecutive year.

The Media Excellence Awards program, now in its 14th year, honours those who have, through one piece of exceptional work, covered Canadian harness racing in a manner that is extraordinary and of broad national appeal.

The finalists in the Outstanding Written Work category are: Melissa Keith for her feature, “Indian Outlaw” and Jeff Robillard for his feature, “Redwood Candid on Past Addiction Issues.”

Indian Outlaw,” written by Melissa Keith and published in the August 2021 issue of TROT Magazine, tells the story of Tyler Redwood, an Indigenous Canadian who has battled addictions and has now been sober thanks to the connection with his horses and the peace he gets from his native heritage that has him on the right track -- in both life and racing. Keith, a resident of Lower Onslow, N.S., is past president of the Canadian Chapter of USHWA, a multiple award-winning journalist, and a handicapper for Ontario Racing. Keith won this award in 2015.

Redwood Candid on Past Addiction Issues,” written by Jeff Robillard, Director of Marketing and Communications for Horse Racing Alberta (HRA), was published on the HRA website on July 12, 2021. The feature tells the story of horseman Tyler Redwood and his struggle to return to racing after battling addictions and mental illness.

In the Outstanding Broadcast category, the finalists are “Saving Sammy,” a mini-series produced by Jayson Baxter, and the video feature, “Redwood Redemption,” produced by Mike Little of Shinelight Entertainment and Jeff Robillard of Horse Racing Alberta.

Saving Sammy” was a five part mini-series created, produced and presented by Jayson Baxter, co-anchor of Atlantic Canada’s The CTV Atlantic “Live at 5” news program. It was broadcasted during the month of May throughout Atlantic Canada.

The series documented the heartwarming story of Samspace, the now 17-year-old Standardbred, who was born and raised in Nova Scotia, following the Baxter family’s journey with “Sammy,” from the thrills of his on-track victories to the gut-wrenching decision to accept a sale offer, to a disturbing phone call on a December morning with fateful news. This story continues as Sammy has moved on to a new life at his home with Christine Faulkner at Serenity Acres in Nova Scotia, where he has a second career as a therapy horse, dealing with individuals who suffer from trauma.

"Redwood Redemption" was produced by Mike Little of Shinelight Entertainment and Jeff Robillard of HRA, and was originally released on the HRA website on August 16, 2021.

The feature tells the story of Alberta horseman Tyler Redwood and his struggle to return to racing after battling addictions and mental illness. Redwood was one of the most inspirational stories of 2021 and provided the Alberta horse racing and breeding industry an immense amount of exposure. HRA won this award in 2008 and 2009.

The Outstanding Photography category finalists are Clive Cohen’s "Training Mile in the Fog" shot and "Through the Lens," taken by Crystal Cole.

"Training Mile in the Fog" by Clive Cohen

Clive Cohen’s "Training Mile in the Fog" photo of Amasa Arion with trainer Patrick Rouleau was taken at Woodbine Mohawk Park on October 7 as the fog started to roll in and was posted on Woodbine's Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Cohen, the official track photographer at Woodbine Mohawk Park, is a five-time (2013, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020) winner of the Media Excellence Award for photography.

“Through the Lens” by Crystal Cole

“Through the Lens” by Crystal Cole

Published in the March 2021 issue of TROT Magazine, Crystal Cole captured this "Through the Lens" image of Alberta horseman Kelly Hoerdt and Ragged But Right heading out to jog on a frigid Alberta morning, while Ripley (dog) looks on. Cole, a resident of Lacombe, Alta., works as the Barn Manager and Outrider at The Track On 2.

These six finalists were the top two point earners in their respective categories.

Standardbred Canada would like to extend its thanks and appreciation to everyone who submitted entries for the Media Awards, to Ontario Racing for their sponsorship of the program, and to all the volunteer judges.

Judges in the Outstanding Written Work category included Corey Dempsey, Communications Coordinator for Equestrian Canada; Michelle Staples, author, horse safety specialist, and an instructor at Equine Guelph; and Jackie Bellamy-Zions, Communications Director at Equine Guelph.

The judges for the Broadcast category were veteran broadcaster Al Craig, sports information officer at Mohawk College and past colour commentator for the Hamilton Bulldogs; Toronto sportscaster Claude Feig; and Scott Roberts, co-anchor at CTV Vancouver’s flagship newscast, CTV News at Six.

The submissions for the Outstanding Photography category were scored by Skip Dickstein, a past Eclipse Award winner and staff photographer at the Albany Times Union; Brandon Hall, executive assistant with the Ontario Equine Federation; and Shawn Hamilton, owner of CLiX Photography, whose passion for photographing horses has landed her photos on the covers and inside magazines such as Corinthian Horse Sport magazine, The Canadian Horsemen, Horse Canada and Equus.

To see a list of past winners of the Media Excellence Awards, click here.

The winners will be announced at the Virtual O’Brien Awards Gala, which can be viewed from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, on

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