Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday is Guest Day: O'Brien Awards

I think Friday should be guest poster day. If anyone wants to write an opinion, for or against any of my pieces, please ask. I will post it up Fridays. Here is one I got tonight on the O'Brien Awards in Canada. A prediction on what will happen tomorrow night in the awards show featuring the best horses in the country. I thank Greg from for giving us his opinion. Greg also does some work for the Harness Edge, so go visit him there. This is a great piece and I do not think I disagree with much. Greg should be a writer :)

Here you go!

On Saturday night, Standardbred Canada is hosting the O’Brien Awards ceremony. Here are my thoughts on who should win in each category and why.

In the two-year old pacing fillies category, it’s a match-up between Shes A Great Lady winner A and Gs Confusion and OSS Super Final winner Chancey Lady. This is one of the most competitive categories this year, but I feel that A and Gs Confusion’s victories in the Shes A Great Lady and later the Three Diamonds at Woodbine should give her the nod over the talented Casie Coleman pupil.

The two-year old colt and gelding pacer is between Santanna Blue Chip and Somebeachsomewhere. Any other year, Santanna Blue Chip would be an absolute slam dunk based on his victories in the Governor’s Cup and Breeder’s Crown, but anybody who watched Somebeachsomewhere win in 1:49.3 at Mohawk cannot possibly vote against the Mach Three colt.

The two-year old filly trot and two-year colt and gelding trot categories are both no contests. Snow White might be the best two-year old trotter in history, period, and Windsong Espoir finished the year undefeated, including a victory in the William Wellwood at Mohawk. Bella Dolce and Surtees Hanover are both very nice horses, but picked the wrong year to race against these two.

On the three-year old side, Hana Hanover should claim top three-year old pacing filly over Michelles Power. Hana Hanover went to the Meadowlands and upset Southwind Tempo in the Mistletoe Shalee and was a consistent cheque-getter in all the big races after that. Michelles Power had a great run at Mohawk, including a victory in the Simcoe in 1:50.1, but tailed off after that.

Three-year old filly trotter should go to Pampered Princess. Her connections raced her against the boys several times this year with mixed results, but she also won the Elegantimage and a stake at Lexington to help her earn over $1 million this season. Brigham Dream had a great year in Quebec and the Ontario Sires Stakes program for trainer J.P. Dubois, but didn’t test any of the grand circuit stakes.

Tell All will take the three-year old pacing colt and gelding award over OSS Super Final champion Bigtime Ball. Tell All was fantastic in winning the North America Cup and then also took the Little Brown Jug for trainer Blair Burgess. Bigtime Ball, a brother to Invitro, had a nice year in the OSS , but struggled with breaks at many points during the year.

Arch Madness did an unbelievable job this year for trainer Trond Smedshammer, and will be rewarded with the trophy for three-year old trotting colts and geldings. He had a great year in the OSS program, including winning the Super Final, and then upset Donato Hanover in both the elimination and final of the Breeders Crown to cement his place as the winner. His competitor, Val Taurus, had a very good year again in Quebec , and won an elimination of the Canadian Trotting Classic, but made a break in the final.

In the older trotting mare category, I believe Mystical Sunshine will get the nod. She’s a gritty and versatile trotting mare, as she won the Breeders Crown at Mohawk and then went to the Delaware County Fair and won the Ms. Versatility final in 1:53.2. Snazzy Millie is a nice mare that often gets overlooked because she races against the boys so often, but she did win the Ontario Masters Series at Georgian.

Older trotting horse is a real toss-up for me. The horse that probably should win, Equinox Bi, only had two starts in the country, so he was not eligible. I would give Vivid Photo the trophy based on his second to Equinox Bi in the Maple Leaf Trot and his third to Equinox Bi in the Breeders Crown. J M Vangogh won the Earl Rowe and the Ontario Masters Series, but didn’t participate in the top tier trotting events that Vivid Photo did.

Older pacing mare should be easily taken by Moving Pictures. This Casie Coleman pupil went on a tear at Mohawk this past summer, winning the Roses Are Red, Milton and Breeders Crown at the Campbellville oval. Darlins Delight had another good year, but is no match here.

Mister Big had a fantastic year, and should take the older pacing horse category. Mister Big won the Willowdale at Woodbine in January and was still going into July and August when he won the William Haughton Memorial and then the US Pacing Championship in 1:47.4. Lis Mara, who was probably picked to win not only this category but Horse of the Year going in, had an up and down year and played second fiddle to Mister Big more than Mister Big did to Lis Mara.

Onto the human awards, where I think Mark Steacy will take the horsemanship award over Phil Pinkney. Pinkney is a very underrated trainer from the Maritimes, who does a great job, but Steacy kept Hana Hanover going all year and then won another Breeders Crown with Stylish Artist.

Breeder of the Year should go to Tara Hills Stud. Tara Hills sire Kadabra completely dominated the Ontario Sires Stakes program with his two-year olds, and they also bred Stylish Artist.

Driver Of The Year will go to Jody Jamieson over Paul MacDonell. Jody had a fantastic year, driving horses like Tell All and Santanna Blue Chip. He finished second by a narrow margin in the WEG driver standings and earned over $10 million.

Trainer Of The Year will once again go to Casie Coleman, who not only dominated the WEG trainer standings again, but also won her first Breeders Crown, in addition to several other stakes victories. Blair Burgess had another fantastic year, but if he didn’t win last year when he had three stakes stars, I don’t believe he will win this year, either.

Finally, Horse Of The Year should go to Somebeachsomewhere, but don’t be surprised if Tell All or Arch Madness wins.


Anonymous said...

I've admitted that do not follow harness racing outside the Meadowlands very closely, other than some of the big series/races. So my thoughts don't hold too much water.

Snow White was awesome. Visually and against the teletimer, this horse was a freak. She ran her BC race almost two seconds faster than the C&G's didn't she?

Pampered Princess I saw quite a bit, another one that was most impressive against her type and I don't recall seeing anyone else in this division being as sharp as she was for awhile.

Tell All was impressive in the few races I saw him.

Donato Hanover and Arch Madness split the year it seems. I feel Donato Hanover was more impressive for longer, earlier the year but Arch Madness got good when it mattered. Is that safe to say?

I don't really know the horses in the older categories to well, so don't have much of an opinion.

Anonymous said...

Should note that Tara Hills also stands Mach Three, who had a fabulous year, including the brilliant Somebeachsomewhere, and Moving Pictures also won the Classic Series final at Mohawk as part of that great run she had there.


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