Trainer Shawn Steacy and driver James MacDonald took home the 2023 Johnston Cup and Lampman Cup titles as the leading Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) trainer and driver after they topped their opponents in the provincial rankings this season.
The Johnston Cup was established in 1993 in memory of Bruce Johnston, publisher of The Canadian Sportsman magazine. It is awarded annually to the leading trainer in the Ontario Sires Stakes program based on a point system that awards one point for each start, four points for each win, three points for each second and two points for each third.
With 118 starts over the 2023 season and 264 points accumulated, trainer Shawn Steacy led the OSS rankings with 18 wins, 18 seconds and 10 thirds. Earning $660,432 in the stakes action, Steacy earned his second Johnston Cup after winning his first in 2020. Matt Bax (233 points) followed in a close second and Gregg McNair (183 points) completed the top three contenders.
"We had a lot of really good mid-level horses," Steacy said on his OSS success in an interview with Trot Insider. "We didn't overbuy horses as yearlings and they were able to step up and be Gold and Grassroot players of horses. I think having a nice mid-level, solid group, rather than just two or three individuals that kind of over the top did it. We had a really good base all the way through."
Better B Bold topped as the highest earner for Steacy as the three-year-old pacing colt banked $146,656 from two wins in six starts. Sophomore pacing fillies Century Jamila ($77,850; pictured above) and Twin Delight ($52,725) each topped with their records of four wins and one second in six starts apiece for Steacy.
The Lampman Cup has been awarded annually since 1987 and honours the memory of long time Ontario Jockey Club publicist Jim Lampman. Like the Johnston Cup, drivers are awarded one Lampman Cup point for each start, four points for each win, three points for each second and two points for each third.
Two-time O'Brien Award winner and on the way to his third title as leading driver in Canada in 2023, driver James MacDonald boasts numerous titles on his resume as he pockets his third straight Lampman Cup. With a standout 518 points, MacDonald took home 47 winners, 32 seconds and 27 thirds in the 180 trips to the track in the 2023 OSS. He accumulated $2,357,160 in earnings over the season's stakes action.
MacDonald held the lines of many top OSS students this year, including Gold Series leader for freshman trotting fillies, Willys Home Run (6: 6-0-0; $405,950) with a spotless record; sophomore trotting colt Hasty Bid (5: 2-2-0; $220,960), who ranked second in the standings; and Gold Series leader for sophomore trotting fillies, Righteous Resolve (5: 2-1-1; $397,514).
"It means a lot to me because when you're dealing with the sire stakes and the Lampman Cup, it's a long process because you're educating the horses and teaching them how to be a racehorse," MacDonald told Trot Insider. "So to be able to win it three times is really special because I have figured out what works for me to educate young horses and help them reach their potential."
Bob McClure finished second in the Lampman Cup standings with 411 points and Doug McNair was third with 347 points.