Mississauga, ON --- Standardbred Canada hosted the 2011 O’Brien Awards this evening to honor and recognize the horses and people who have made the greatest contribution to Canadian harness racing over the past season. The awards are named for the late Hall of Famer Joe O'Brien, a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Superstar trotter San Pail was honored as Horse of the Year, and was also the Older Trotting Horse of the Year for the third consecutive year. Jody Jamiesonwon his third title as Canada’s Driver of the Year, following a sensational season in which he captured the World Driving Championship, while Jeff Gillis took home his first O’Brien in the Trainer of the Year category. Alberta’s Keith Clark took home the O’Brien Award for Horsemanship for the second time in his career.
San Pail was the unanimous choice as Canada’s Older Trotting Horse. The son of San Pellegrino, out of the Balanced Image mare Village Beauty, dominated Canadian harness racing last season. The fan favorite topped the charts for older trotting horses in North America with over C$1.2 million in earnings and 14 wins in 16 races, highlighted by victories in every stakes he competed in. He scored eleven of his wins and earned C$934,920 in Canada, between Mohawk and Woodbine racetracks. His stakes wins included the elimination and final of the Glorys Comet, the Maple Leaf Trot, the Nat Ray, the Credit Winner and the Allerage Farm Trot.
His final moment of glory for 2011 came in the C$602,340 Breeders Crown Open Trot at Woodbine on October 29. In this season-ending championship he took on a world class field, which included two European trotting stars, and trotted to an exciting and hard-fought, 1:51.4, neck victory.
Jody Jamieson, 35, of Moffat, Ont., was voted Canada’s Driver of the Year following an exceptional season. Jamieson put together some career best numbers in 2011, leading all Canadian harness drivers with over C$11.4 million in purse earnings. He made 461 trips to the winner’s circle, captured his second North America Cup and secured his second World Driving Championship title this season. Jamieson was the regular driver for four O’Brien winners: older trotting mare Frenchfrysnvinegar, 3-year-old pacing filly Monkey On My Wheel, 3-year-old pacing colt Up The Credit and the 2-year-old pacing colt Warrawee Needy.
The Trainer of the Year award went to first time nominee, Jeff Gillis, 34, of Hillsburgh, Ont. He enjoyed an extremely productive year, conditioning 108 winners and training horses to over C$3.8 million in purse money. His stable was led by the standout 3-year-old pacing colt Mystician, a winner of $695,000 last season, Breeders Crown champion Frenchfrysnvinegar, who won an O’Brien trophy in the Older Trotting Mare category, Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final winner Mister Herbie and top freshman pacing colt Speed Again.
Keith Clark, winner of the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship annually posts solid training and driving numbers. The 2011 season marked the sixth consecutive year that the Hall of Famer surpassed the C$1 million mark in earnings as a trainer, while sending out 172 winners from his barn. On the driving side, he hit for 164 wins and eclipsed the C$1 million marker for the seventh straight season. Clark was the leading trainer at three racetracks last year, at Alberta Downs in Lacombe, Alta., Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alta. and Fraser Downs in Surrey, B.C. His driving talents are equally as impressive as he was also the leading driver at Alberta Downs and Northlands in 2011.
American Jewel was honored as the 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year. The daughter of American Ideal won eight of nine races and over C$669,000. Three of her wins were on Canadian soil, including a season’s-best effort of 1:50.2 at Mohawk when she won the Shes A Great Lady Stakes in world record time.
The 2-year-old pacing colt title went to Warrawee Needy, a winner of nine of 12 races and C$535,000 during his juvenile campaign. The E Dees Cam colt put together a six-race win streak druing June and July. He won seven Ontario Sires Stakes including the Ontario Sire Stakes Super Final, in which he trounced his competition, cruising to a 9-3/4 length victory.
Up The Credit was voted 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year following a stellar sophomore campaign which included eight victories and C$1,118,953 in earnings. He scored his richest payday in the C$1.5 million North America Cup, and also captured the Somebeachsomewhere in a career best 1:49, as well as a division of the Simcoe and The Diplomat Final.
Monkey On My Wheel won the O’Brien as Canada’s 3-Year-Old Filly Pacer of the Year. The daughter of Mach Three won seven races and over C$816,000 last season. Her portfolio included three Ontario Sires Stakes wins and wins in the elimination and final of the Canadian Breeders Championship. On October 29 she scored her richest payday in winning the Breeders Crown, in which she also turned in a career-best, 1:49.3 performance.
North America’s leading moneymaking older pacing mare, Anndrovette took home the O’Brien in her division. Her 2011 season was highlighted by C$747,338 in purse money and 11 victories which included the Betsy Ross, the Artiscape, the A Spring of Hope, an elimination of the Milton and elimination and final of the Breeders Crown.
Triple millionaire Foiled Again was voted Older Pacing Horse of the Year. He hit the board for 25 top-three finishes in 28 races and netted C$1,400,937 this past season to top the charts in earnings for his division. He captured numerous stakes events on both sides of the border including the Molson Pace at The Raceway at Western Fair and an elimination of the Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack.
The U.S.-based Check Me Out took the O’Brien trophy in the 2-year-old trotting filly category. Check Me Out was North America’s leading moneywinning filly with C$898,343 in earnings collected from 14 wins and two seconds. Her impressive resume boasted wins in the Reynolds, Tompkins-Geers, Merrie Annabelle, Pennsylvania Sire