The 2016 Sovereign Awards took place for the first time ever at Palais Royale, situated on Toronto’s Lakeshore. Honouring the best in Canadian Thoroughbred Racing for 42 years now, the annual fixture brought out a who’s-who in the industry. Winning Horse of the Year honours this year was Robert Marzilli‘s Caren, who also took home Champion Three-Year-Old Female honours. The tough filly last year was thrown all obstacles including a true stamina test on the turf to win the mile-and-a-quarter Wonder Where Stakes in August, defying all expectations. Trained by Michael De Paulo and his team, Caren‘s stablemate Noholdingback Bear also took home Champion Sprinter.
After shocking the racing world with an announcement of their exit from the industry with a complete dispersal of their horses last fall, Conquest Stables (Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell) were honoured as Outstanding Owner, an award which they took home also in 2014. I, along with Woodbine personality Dawn Lupul had the honour of accepting on behalf of Semersky and Newell. I also had the honour of being nominated for Outstanding Photograph, which was awarded to Alberta’s Cody Gregory. We congratulate him on his amazing win!
Mark Casse and his team continued their domination, taking home their ninth Outstanding Trainer title at the awards tonight, his daughter Camille accepting on his behalf. A few of his trainees – current and former – took home hardware this evening including Conquest Enforcer (Champion Turf Male), Lexie Lou (Champion Turf Female – a former Horse of the Year also), King and his Court (Champion Two-Year-Old Male) and Victory to Victory (Champion Two-Year-Old Female).
Jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva won his third Outstanding Jockey title and just when we thought he was going to exit the stage without doing so, Emcee Jason Portuondo queued him to exclaim his signature line, “Get luck to everybody!”, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
For the first time ever, Outstanding Groom was awarded to Dexter Brathwaite, a member of Barb Minshall‘s team. The award was presented by the OLG.
Hot off the announcement that he has upped the purse of the 2018 Pegasus World Cup to a whopping $16 million, Frank Stronach was honoured for his industry contributions with the E.P. Taylor Award. His daughter Belinda, who is still getting acclimated with the industry her father is so passionate about, joining him on-stage and she told the audience “I’m still learning and one day I”ll graduate”. Stronach’s Adena Springs operation took home Outstanding Breeder.
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The 41st annual Sovereign Awards took place in Toronto tonight at Woodbine Racetrack, honouring champions in Canadian Horse Racing for the year 2015. This year’s theme was Hollywood, the Red Carpet complete with its own Hollywood sign, movie theme songs introducing winners and giant Oscar statues to greet guests.
Taking Horse of the Year honours this year was three-time honouree this evening Catch a Glimpse, who took the important Grade II Natalma Stakes last fall before going on winning the Grade I $1-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland. The Mark Casse trainee owned by Michael James Ambler,Gary Barber and Windways Farm, also nabbed Outstanding Turf Female and Two Year Old Filly. It is a rarity that a horse as young as she wins Horse of the Year honours, making her accomplishment that much more impressive. Mark Casse himself would go on to win Outstanding Trainer a jaw-dropping eighth time, his daughter Camille accepting for him.
Eurico Da Silva won his third Outstanding Jockey title, noticeably emotional when watching a tribute for his late fan Alexandrea Tersigni, to whom he dedicated his 2015 season.
Frank Stronach and his Adena Springs also were notable winners taking Outstanding Breeder – they are based in Aurora, Ontario. Stronach Stables’Queen’s Plate champion Shaman Ghost was honoured Outstanding Three Year Old Male.
Bear Stables’ Academic proved her popularity through Ontario and Western Canada, besting the boys in the Canadian Derby in addition to the prestigious Woodbine Oaks last year en route to a victory in the Outstanding Three Year Old Filly voting.
The ill-fated Miss Mischief shipped in from the U.S. last season to a couple significant stake wins including the Grade II Bessarabian Stakes. She won both Outstanding Older Female and Female Sprinter. The speedy filly had passed away over the winter after sustaining an injury.
Sam-Son Farm would go on to win Outstanding Owner, with Rick Balaz accepting. He acknowledged his children Mike and Lisa Balaz as being the future of the legacied stable, thanking the large team who help with operations.
Other major winners tonight included Interpol for Outstanding Turf Male, Are You Kidding Me for Outstanding Older Horse and Riker for Outstanding Two Year Old Male.
The 40th annual Sovereign Awards, organized by the Jockey Club of Canada and hosted by Jason Portuondo, were held at Woodbine Racetrack tonight, honouring the best in Canadian Horse Racing in 2014. Some of the Industry’s most recognizable faces came to celebrate the occasion as the 2015 Racing Season at Woodbine commences this weekend after a four-month break over the Winter.
Earning top honours tonight, which came as no surprise, was the standout Filly LEXIE LOU, who not only won the Country’s two most prestigious races for three-year-olds, the Woodbine Oaks and the Queen’s Plate, but also ran a valiant second in the Hollywood Derby to American Horse of the Year, CALIFORNIA CHROME. She also would be awarded the Nation’s top Three-Year-Old Filly and also Outstanding Female Turf Horse. On-hand to receive the Award for Owner and Hollywood Film Producer Gary Barber, was Trainer Mark Casse who for the eighth consecutive year was awarded Outstanding Trainer in Canada.
Upon accepting his Award for Trainer, Casse made an emotional speech which would see him overcome with sadness in recalling the loss of one of his Stable Stars, CONQUEST TWO STEP who had been euthanized earlier this week after a fatal injury and also the loss of his dear Friend, Mike Anderson. Despite all his success, LEXIE LOU would be the first Horse with whom he would win the prestigious Queen’s Plate. With his Wife Tina and son Colt in attendance, Casse announced that he plans to bring his star Filly back to Woodbine for at least a couple turf races this meet, culminating in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky this Fall. Casse‘s Trainees would go-on tonight to win Champion Turf Male (DYNAMIC SKY),Champion Female Sprinter (HILLABY), Champion Two-Year-Old Male (CONQUEST TYPHOON) and Champion Two-Year-Old Female (CONQUEST HARLANATE). The Chicago-based Owners of the latter two, Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell, better known as Conquest Stables also flew-in for the occasion, tearfully accepting their Awards with pride. Newell expressed gratitude to me at how quick their success has been.
PATRICKHUSBANDS earned his eighth Outstanding Jockey Award tonight, giving thanks to the top Owners he rides for and also Mark Casse, whom he likens to a Father in mentoring him. The Jockey among other stellar mounts was responsible for LEXIE LOU‘s greatest wins.
Although Oilman JOHN C. OXLEY wasn’t able to attend, his Trainer Casse accepted on his behalf, winning Outstanding Owner for a third time. Among his biggest Stars last Season were SKY CAPTAIN, SPRING IN THE AIR, DIXIE TWIST and NORTHERN PASSION.
Sam-Son Farms would get awarded Outstanding Breeder for an eighth time, after a successful Season which saw many of their Homebreds go-on to great success including Nominee DECEPTIVE VISION, HIS RACE TO WIN, ALDOUS SNOW and last year’s Horse of the Year,UP WITH THE BIRDS.
SHEENA RYAN was awarded Outstanding Apprentice after a successful year, attending with her Family and Partner Gary Edwards who just arrived from Dubai after some work there with famous Godolphin Racing.
Others in attendance included the likes of Trainer John LeBlanc who was nominated for Two-Year-Old Male with PHIL’S COCKTAIL. He showed us new Photos of upcoming Stable Star, the simply-named Canadian Premier Yearling Sales Topper MIKE, a Half-Brother to Millionaire Champion PENDER HARBOUR who has shown amazing consistency and longevity.
Owner/Trainer John Ross, who was responsible for developing LEXIE LOU before she was sold to Gary Barber, received a much-due thanks from Casse. He and his Wife Cathy are excited about their Three-Year-Olds R U WATCHING BUD and the incredibly-talented BROOKLYNSWAY who tallied second in Two-Year-Old Filly voting to CONQUEST HARLANATE.
Although the 2014 Thoroughbred Meet at Woodbine Racetrack doesn’t begin for another three months, the Jockey Club of Canada earlier today announced its very best in Horse Racing in 2013. The Sovereign Awards, which honour Canadian Champions in the Sport, are set to take place on Friday, April 11, 2014.
With Finalists for coveted Horse of the Year yet to be determined, as they will be selected based on Winners that night, I must say it could be a contentious Battle! Forte dei Marmi was amazing for much of the Season and will be up against the hard-fighting Up With the Birds who did amazing against top-class Competition in the U.S. Ria Antonia, might not have been remarkable at Woodbine where she started her Career earlier last year, but she went-on to win the super-important Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Dirt in California, a Feat never accomplished before by a Canadian-based Filly.
Nominees this year in all non-Media Categories include:
Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Lexie Lou On Rainbow Bridge Paladin Bay Ria Antonia
Champion Two-Year-Old Male Ami’s Holiday Asserting Bear Go Greeley Jose Sea View
Champion Three-Year-Old Male Five Iron Midnight Aria River Seven Up With the Birds
Champion Older Female Madeira Park Moonlit Beauty Part the Seas Sisterly Love
Champion Older Male Alpha Bettor Delegation Herbie D Ultimate Destiny
Champion Turf Female Leigh Court Overheard Part the Seas Solid Appeal
Champion Turf Male Forte Dei Marmi (GB) Phil’s Dream River Seven Up With the Birds
Champion Female Sprinter Goldstryke Glory Leigh Court Part the Seas Youcan’tcatchme
Champion Male Sprinter Bear No Joke Essence Hit Man Herbie D Phil’s Dream
Outstanding Broodmare Captivating Galadriel Shebandowana Star Guest
Outstanding Breeder Adena Springs Chiefswood Stables Ltd. William D. Graham Sam-Son Farm
Outstanding Owner Bear Stables Ltd. John C. Oxley Sam-Son Farms Tucci Stables
Outstanding Trainer Reade Baker Mark Casse Nicholas Gonzalez Malcolm Pierce
Outstanding Apprentice Jockey Skye Chernetz Amie Pooli Sheena Ryan Tommy Wong
Outstanding Jockey Luis Contreras Eurico Da Silva Justin Stein Rico Walcott
We’re incredibly thrilled again to be a part of the Awards this year and even more excited for the 2014 Thoroughbred Racing Season to begin on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Woodbine Racetrack! We wish the Nominees all the best and can’t wait to celebrate!
For those interested in attending, more details on this and the Awards are here.
The v. finest in Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Racing were honoured tonight at Woodbine Racetrack, right in time for tomorrow’s 2013 Season Launch. This year marks the 38th edition of the Awards, recognizing remarkable talent in the Industry from Breeders to Journalists to Horses.
Winning tonight’s most prestigious Award was Champion Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding,Uncaptured, owned by Oklahoma Oilman John C. Oxley and trained by Mark Casse. Until last week the now three-year-old Colt was seen as a major Kentucky Derby Contender and last season he won an impressive six out of seven races, including the Grade IIKentucky Jockey Club Cup Stakes and Grade IIIIroquois Stakes back-to-back against some stiff competition in Kentucky. His Breeder, long-time veteran and former Football Player William D. Graham for the first time ever was awarded Breeder of the Year.
Double Winners tonight were Champion Three-Year-Old Filly and Turf Female, Irish Mission, who competed effectively against the Boys last Summer, even defeating them in the third leg of Canada’s Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Stakes. Roxy Gap, owned by the same Man who owns the Ottawa Senators, Eugene Melnyk, won both Older Female and Female Sprinter.
23-year-old Jockey Scott Williams, also the Son of Jockey Danny Williams, was awarded Apprentice Jockey handed to him by past Winner Robbie King Jr. And for a second year in-a-row, Luis Contreras won Jockey, with his two young Sons there to accept his Award from former Champion Sandy Hawley, causing laughter with their antics on-stage.
Trainer Mark Frostad, who trains Irish Mission, made a heartfelt plea during his Acceptance Speech, with a call to the Provincial Government to preserve and protect a Sport which for so many years has built a History and also a substantial amount of revenue for Ontario. Premier Kathleen Wynne has expressed willingness to help keep Horse Racing alive in Ontario and was given due credit by him. Meanwhile, Trainer Casse also expressed great relief he and his Wife will be able to enjoy the races which have been revived at Fort Erie Racetrack this season, already planning a trip to Niagara Falls this Summer!
I had an amazing time attending my first ever Sovereign Awards tonight and must admit it was a bit surreal that a few Jockeys recognized me and knew me by first name! An unforgettable experience being in the same room as Veterans in the spirit of this treasured Sport and also those aspiring to be in the Industry like Nastia Zemtsova, a young Woman and avid Horse Racing Fan hoping to become a Jockey, who won tickets to the Event.
Woodbine‘s 2013 Racing Season kicks-off tomorrow at 1:00 PM and runs through December 15, 2013.
Some Snaps from the Evening:
For more details on tonight’s Winners, click here.
Perhaps one of the greatest Colts to come out of Canada in years, Uncaptured already has stamped himself a Shoe-in as Canada’s top two-year-old Colt at the forthcoming Sovereign Awards, honouring Canada’s Finest in Thoroughbred Racing. Originally named the Winterbook Favourite to win next year’s Kentucky Derby – a rarity for a Canadian-bred Horse – Uncaptured left many in doubt after a sub-par effort at Woodbine Racetrack in the Grey Stakes back in October, finishing a dismal fifth as the heavy Favourite. Many wondered whether his best was simply behind him after winning his first four races in-a-row, or perhaps he simply was only a Sprinter?
Shipped-off to Kentucky late October, the Colt won the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs easily and bettered that with a valiant effort today against even tougher company in the 1 1/16 miles Kentucky Jockey Club Cup Stakes, a Grade II Affair. On paper he may have won by just a neck, but it was the persistence he showed never letting second-place Finisher Frac Daddy, pass him which was most impressive to watch.
With today’s win, Uncaptured has banked over $510k in just seven starts, stamping himself a Top Contender for next year’s Kentucky Derby. In the v. least, he’s proven now on Churchill Down‘s Dirt Course, but still the question for many is whether or not he can handle an even longer distance after barely hanging-on today. Of course he will face some stuff competition with undefeated and probable U.S. Champion two-year-old Colt Shanghai Bobby also pointed towards the Run for the Roses that first weekend in May 2013. Bobby comes off a win in the $2-million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile which he won by just a head earlier this month. A lot can happen over the Winter and at any point a new Superstar could emerge as quick as that famous two-minute Derby is run.
Nonetheless, Canadians couldn’t be prouder. It has been 29 years since a Canadian-bred has won the Derby and this is our greatest hope. Is Uncaptured the greatest Canadian Colt since the legendary Northern Dancer?
Watch Uncaptured‘s game effort today in the Kentucky Jockey Club Cup Stakesright here.