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Filion's Dominance Continues

Published: January 26, 2017 9:55 am ET

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While he comes from a family considered harness racing royalty and has been Canada's top money-earning reinsman for five years running, Sylvain Filion remains as humble as ever as he seeks another Driver of the Year title at Saturday's O'Brien Awards.

Bill O’Donnell, President of the Central Ontario Standardbred Association and a director of Standardbred Canada, makes the 2015 Driver of the Year presentation to Sylvain Filion (third from left) and his family. Left to right: Claudette Laurin, Dominic Filion, Sylvain Filion, Bill O’Donnell, Valerie Larocque, Yvette Filion, Stephane Larocque, Yves Filion.

"I'm very grateful for all the support I got from many horsemen and women, family and friends making 2016 another wonderful year," said Filion, who has won the national award in three of the last four years. "I'm very happy, it's an honour to be nominated for such a great award."

The Milton, Ont. horseman earned yet another nomination as he steered winners of more than $7.8 million, making 2016 his second-best year behind his first O'Brien Award-winning season in 2012 when horses he drove won $8.66 million. With his seasonal success, the veteran driver reached a career milestone, topping the $100 million mark in lifetime earnings.

Filion attributes his award-worthy campaign to "opportunities to drive good horses and the chance to work with trainers like Luc Blais, the Fellows, Stephane Larocque, Richard Moreau, and Tony O'Sullivan, just to name a few."

Among those horses, Filion was the regular driver for three O’Brien Award divisional finalists: the O'Sullivan-trained two-year-old pacing colt Beyond Delight, the Blais stable's three-year-old trotting filly Emoticon Hanover and the Larocque-conditioned two-year-old pacing filly Yaris Bayama, who is owned and was bred by Filion's father Yves.

2016 Metro Pace - Beyond Delight

Filion was the leading driver on the Mohawk-Woodbine circuit, where he enjoyed his seasonal highlight of winning the $661,000 Metro Pace with Beyond Delight, and in the Ontario Sires Stakes program, where he scored a driving triple on Super Final Night with Emoticon Hanover, Yaris Bayama and Warrawee Roo. He drove 315 winners in total last year.

Filion is a finalist for Driver of the Year along with first-time nominee Bob McClure, who was Canada's 2016 win leader with 576 victories.

While attending the O'Brien Awards Black Tie Gala as a nominee on Saturday won't be a new experience for Filion like it will be for his fellow finalist, it is an experience he does not take for granted.

"It's a fun night to meet and greet with the people involved in our industry that I don't always have the chance to see in a different environment," said Filion. "And it's also nice to dress up once in a while. Hats off to Kathy Wade [Vlaar, Standardbred Canada's Marketing Manager] and her staff to make that evening such a memorable gala."

For a full list of 2016 O'Brien Award finalists, click here. For details about the Black Tie Gala, click here.

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