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This 'Seven' Is Closer To A 10

Published: January 26, 2017 6:59 pm ET

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Owner Allan Smith has owned a number of solid racehorses, but none have taken him to the O'Brien Awards. That was until he got the call to notify him that Seven And Seven was a finalist as Canada's Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year.

"I have never been before so my family and I are looking forward to the evening to celebrate all of the really good horses and the people -- owners, trainers, drivers and caretakers -- that make it all happen," Smith told Trot Insider. "Maybe even make some new friends! Who knows, always great to have folks from different parts of life that have a passion for the same sport."

That statement exemplifies the electricity set to flow through the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel this Saturday night as Standardbred Canada hosts the 2016 O’Brien Awards, the 28th edition of the annual black tie gala.

Owned by Smith along with breeder June Durand and her husband, trainer-driver Tom Durand of Oakville, Seven And Seven (Chapter Seven - Ally Oop) is a finalist for two-year-old trotting colt honours along with Ontario Sires Stakes star Mass Production.

"Well 'Seven' was a wonderful surprise this year," admitted Smith. "We expected to hopefully race him in New York Sire Stakes if he was good enough to race at two. I think Tom knew he had a lot of ability but did not want to get me over-excited...things can change a lot once they get to the track."

Seven And Seven hit the track, and he confirmed Durand's beliefs. A fourth-place finish in an overnight event propelled Seven And Seven into the Define The World Series at Mohawk.

"When he came a last quarter in :26.3 to win over Jake in the Define The World Final I was impressed."

Seven And Seven concluded his season with four wins from eight races and more than $226,000 in earnings. Along with his wins in the leg and final of the Define The World, the rookie swept the elimination and final of the William Wellwood Memorial where he posted a season’s mark of 1:55.3.

"When he beat some of most expensive U.S.-owned yearlings in the elimination and final of the Wellwood, well, that was inspiring," said Smith. "It was great that Paula, Mike and family were there to present the award. What a year they had in 2016."

In referencing the year enjoyed by the connections of Marion Marauder, Smith definitely had a season to remember in 2016 as well. He and the Durands also own OSS graduate and stakes winner Dia Monde ($207,912) as well as regular Preferred class competitor Whiskey Tax, who surpassed $1 million in career earnings with his runner-up score on October 7.

"Winning the Wellwood with John Campbell driving Seven was the highlight for sure," noted Smith. "Also a big deal to me was Whiskey Tax setting a new lifetime mark and going over a million at eight years old, still racing in the Preferred Trot at WEG."

Smith credits the Durands for their horsemanship and knowledge, making such a year possible.

"Well, it's a team effort obviously. Tom and June are special people; not only are they very good at picking out good horses on a budget, but they really take excellent care of all their horses. It's like they are family.

"They have also taught me patience is very important with horses...I’m learning!"

Smith is hoping that patience pays off in 2017 with a few horses that didn't make the highlight reel this past year.

"We also had a couple of really nice three-year-olds that really started to look good at the end of year: Moonstar Mission and Veyron, to name a couple."

For now, Smith will keep trying to maintain his composure, stay patient and enjoy Saturday's awards ceremony while the on-track stars continue to train down in Florida over the winter.

"No question it's an honour just to be nominated," stated Smith. "It would be a real bonus to win, for sure."

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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