A total of 11 Ontario-sired pacers and trotters are among the nominees for Canada’s highest Standardbred honour, an O’Brien Award, which recognize the absolute best in harness racing in the country over the past racing season.
Two nominees in each of the 12 categories were announced this week for the 2014 awards with Ontario-sired trotting fillies sweeping their respective divisions. Stubborn Belle and Danielle Hall, the top two performers in this year’s Ontario Sires Stakes two-year-old trotting filly division, are the two nominees in that class. A daughter of Deweycheatumnhowe, Danielle Hall earned $520,000 in her debut season, $308,000 coming in the OSS.
Stubborn Belle earned a very similar amount, $529,004, from 14 trips behind the starting gate this year. The Taurus Dream filly won three OSS contests for $149,000 banked. Her stablemate from the John Bax barn, Riveting Rosie, is among two OSS graduates in the sophomore trotting filly nominees.
An O’Brien winner last year at two, Rosie came on strong later in the season and earned $436,000, $300,000 of which came in the provincial program. The Muscle Mass miss is closing in on a million dollars in lifetime earnings with $905,000 banked.
Her competition for the O’Brien trophy is a filly she faced several times on the racetrack this season, the striking filly White Becomes Her known for her distinctive white blaze on her face. Sired by Angus Hall, White Becomes Her took in $288,000 in her sophomore season.
Dont Rush, a possible Ontario-sired hopeful in next year’s Hambletonian, is a finalist for two-year-old trotting colt of the year thanks to a $296,000 winning season. Harper Blue Chip, who was the OSS flag bearer in this year’s Hambo (finishing a very impressive third), is a finalist for three-year-old trotting colt.
Bee A Magician, a daughter of Kadabra who swept horse of the year honours in both Canada and the US last season thanks to an undefeated season, will vie for another O’Brien in the trotting mare category.
Among the pacers there are two Ontario-sired rookies nominated, Sports Chic and Go Daddy Go, in the filly and colt divisions respectively. Sports Chic is from the very successful first crop of Sportswriter while Go Daddy Go is by Ponder. Lady Shadow, a Shadow Play miss, is the OSS hopeful in the three-year-old pacing filly category.
Modern Legend, who lived up to his name with his giant slaying effort in this year’s Canadian Pacing Derby, where he defeated North America’s top free for all pacers, is a finalist for the pacing horse division.
The winners will be revealed at the awards banquet on February 7.