Wednesday, 20 December 2017 14:56

Mateo Finalist for 2017 O’Brien Award

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2017 O’Brien Finalists Announced

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 season. 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 (trotting filly) 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


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

Owned by Christine Cutting, Airdrie, AB
Jim R Marino, Surrey, BC

Older Pacing Mare

Pure Country
Owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Wellsville PA

Owned by Bradley J Grant, Milton, ON

Older Pacing Horse

Owned by S S G Stables, North Boston, NY

Owned by Brad D Gray, Dundas, ON
Michael E Guerriero, Brampton, ON
Menary Racing Inc., Rockton, ON


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
Guy Gagnon - Gatineau, QC

Armstrong Breeder of the Year

Al Libfeld / Marvin Katz - Pickering, ON / Toronto, ON
Stan Klemencic - Trenton, ON

Driver of the Year

Doug McNair - Guelph, ON
Louis Philippe Roy - Mont-Joli, QC

Trainer of the Year

Gregg McNair - Guelph, ON
Richard Moreau - Puslinch, ON

Future Star Award

Brett MacDonald - Manotick, ON
Maxime Velaye - Mirabel, QC

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