Standardbred Canada is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2022 O’Brien Awards, honouring Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season.
There are two finalists in each category, which includes 12 divisional horse categories and five people categories. One of the divisional champions will also be recognized as the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year.
The winners will be announced at the O’Brien Awards Gala on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, which will take place at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale.
This will mark the 34th edition of the O’Brien Awards, named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Cheesy Smile and Sylvia Hanover are finalists in the Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly category.
Cheesy Smile, a daughter of Betterthancheddar, won five of 10 races this season for trainer John Pentland, with four of those coming in the Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) program. She capped off her season by scoring in the OSS Super Final, pushing her 2022 earnings to $316,947.
Sylvia Hanover finished off the year with a record of 9-8-1-0, with her lone blemish coming in a start that saw her begin from the second tier. Her list of accomplishments include victories in the Champlain Stakes, Shes A Great Lady Final and the Breeders Crown Final, which were all held at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The daughter of Always B Miki finished the year earning $903,300 for trainer Shawn Steacy.
In the Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt division, Ace Of Aces and Stockade Seelster are the finalists.
Despite winning just one race in nine tries this season, the Bettors Delight colt Ace Of Aces was competitive at the highest levels, hitting the board seven times overall and totalling $261,203 in purses for trainer Shawn Steacy. He was a runner-up finisher in the Champlain Stakes and finished his rookie season with a third-place finish in the final of the Metro Pace.
Stockade Seelster had a stellar year for trainer Dr. Ian Moore, finishing with eight wins in 11 tries and bankrolling $917,470. This son of State Treasurer was perfect in the provincial program (five-for-five), capped off with a win in the OSS Super Final. His biggest payday came from his win in the $900,000 Metro Pace.
The finalists in the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly category have representation from two different provinces, with Divine Art representing Alberta and Silver Label representing Ontario.
Divine Art, a daughter of Outrageous Art trained by Nathan Sobey, has strictly raced in Alberta during her career and has dominated her foes in 2022, winning 13 out of 16 races and amassing $251,562 in purses. Among those victories are wins in the Alberta Super Final and the Century Casinos Filly Pace.
An O’Brien Award finalist at age two, and trained by Nick Gallucci, Silver Label is looking to capture the award at three after falling short to stablemate Prohibition Legal a year ago. In 2022, victories for the daughter of Bettors Delight included the final of the SBOA and the OSS Super Final, and her seasonal earnings came in at $498,138.
It’ll be the ‘Battle of the Beaches’ in the Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt division, with Beach Glass and Pebble Beach getting the nod as finalists.
After being lightly-raced at age two, Beach Glass put forth a strong sophomore campaign for trainer Brent MacGrath, winning nine of his 13 starts and amassing more than $1.1 million in earnings. Big wins came for the son of Somebeachsomewhere in the Cane Pace, Max Hempt Memorial and Progress Pace, but his most renowned victory of the season came in the Meadowlands Pace, giving his connections that trophy for the first time -- the one trophy that his superstar sire was unable to deliver.
No horse made more money on Canadian soil in 2022 ($1,038,000) than the Noel Daley-trained colt, Pebble Beach. The son of Downbytheseaside was a perfect five-for-five over the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval this year. His signature wins in Canada included the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup and the Breeders Crown Final, both of which he won in dominating fashion.
So Much More and Test Of Faith are the finalists in the Older Pacing Mares division.
Trainer Don Beatson’s So Much More continued her dominance in Canada’s upper fillies and mares ranks in 2022, where she made 34 starts, winning 16 times and earning $423,127. She had 28 top three finishes overall, which included a third-place finish in the Breeders Crown Final. In 2022, the daughter of Big Jim also surpassed the $1 million mark for career earnings and achieved her 50th lifetime win.
The 2021 U.S. Horse of the Year, Test Of Faith had another tremendous year in 2022, finishing in the top three in 18 of her 19 starts for $928,768 in earnings. She completed the ‘Canadian Older Mares Double’ by winning both the Roses Are Red and the Milton Stakes and added the Dorothy Haughton Memorial as one of her biggest victories stateside. The Brett Pelling-trained daughter of Art Major was only defeated once in six starts on Canadian soil, when she finished second, beaten only a head, in the Breeders Crown Final.
Bulldog Hanover and Tattoo Artist are the finalists for the Older Pacing Horse category.
The Jack Darling-trained son of Shadow Play, Bulldog Hanover captivated the hearts of harness racing fans across North America, becoming the fastest Standardbred the sport has ever seen when he stopped the clock in 1:45.4 in the William R. Haughton Memorial at The Meadowlands. It was a memorable season that saw him win 14 races in 16 starts for $1,858,210 in earnings. Some of Bulldog Hanover’s other notable victories came in the Dan Patch Stakes and the Hoosier Pacing Derby at Hoosier Park, the Dayton Pacing Derby, the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Breeders Crown and the TVG Open.
An Ontario-bred and sired son of Hes Watching, Tattoo Artist finished in the top three in 22 of 25 starts this year, which was good for just over $1 million in earnings on the season. His most notable wins came in the #SENDITIN Invitational Pace and the Joe Gerrity Memorial. On Canadian soil, where he was trained by Dr. Ian Moore, Tattoo Artist had impressive runner-up finishes in the Canadian Pacing Derby, Breeders Crown and Camluck Classic.
Righteous Resolve and Silly Me Hanover will compete for Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly honours.
Just like her full brother (Duly Resolved) did a year ago, Righteous Resolve had a dominant freshman campaign, winning eight of 10 races and earning $623,704. The daughter of Resolve won the Champlain Stakes, the Peaceful Way and four Ontario Sires Stakes events, including the OSS Super Final. She also finished third in the Breeders Crown Final for trainer John Bax.
Silly Me Hanover finished in the top three in five of her eight seasonal starts, amassing $275,431. The daughter of Walner was a runner-up in the $1 million Mohawk Million for trainer Luc Blais and finished third in her split of the Champlain Stakes.
Gaines Hanover and Winners Bet are the finalists for the Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt division.
Gaines Hanover, a son of Cantab Hall, won four of eight starts this season and totalled $493,851 in earnings. The Richard Moreau trainee won the Champlain Stakes in September, but his biggest moment came when he captured the final of the Breeders Crown.
Winners Bet, a son of Walner trained by Domenico Cecere, won three of 10 races and $434,938 in his rookie campaign. The biggest highlight, and payday, of the year for him came on Canadian soil when he triumphed in the William Wellwood Memorial Final and earned a spot in the Mohawk Million.
Adare Castle and Warrawee Xenia are Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly finalists.
Adare Castle is looking to secure an O’Brien Award for the second consecutive year. This daughter of Muscle Mass, trained by Mark Etsell, matched her win total from a year ago (seven) and earned $668,654 in the process. Her stakes wins included four OSS Gold events, the SBOA Final and the Casual Breeze. She finished second in the Elegantimage, the Simcoe and the OSS Super Final.
Warrawee Xenia had nine victories in 2022, with seven of those coming in consecutive starts -- the last of which being an eye-popping win in her Hambletonian Oaks elimination. The talented daughter of Walner, trainer Shawn Steacy’s third nominee, also won her Simcoe Stakes split and capped off her season by upsetting in the Matron Stakes at Bally's Dover. In total, her earnings for the season amounted to $222,978.
In the Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt division, Safe Conduct and Twin B Archie are the finalists.
Safe Conduct, a son of Archangel trained by Camilla Christoforou, finished in the top three in 11 of his 13 starts this season, earning $262,934 in the process. He made his lone win in the provincial program this year a big one, when he captured the $225,000 OSS Super Final in October.
Twin B Archie is looking to capture his first O’Brien Award after being a finalist as a freshman a year ago. This year, the sophomore gelding by Archangel racked up six wins and $490,502 in earnings for trainer Scott McEneny. He won the SBOA Final, two OSS Gold events and was second in the Goodtimes Final.
Atlanta and HP Mama B are the finalists in the Older Trotting Mare division.
Atlanta is looking to win her second O’Brien Award in this division, the first coming in 2019. The daughter of Chapter Seven, trained by Ron Burke, won six races in 15 starts and amassed $493,721 in 2022, with stakes wins that included the Armbro Flight and the Miss Versatility Final. She also finished second in the Breeders Crown. An O’Brien here would be Atlanta’s last, as her retirement from racing was recently announced.
A daughter of Royalty For Life that was trained in 2022 by both Ben Baillargeon and Jean Tourigny, HP Mama B had six wins in 22 starts this year and earned $168,130. She spent most of her year racing against the boys and has two wins at the Preferred level against them at Woodbine Mohawk Park, but she also finished second to Bella Bellini in the Graduate Final at The Meadowlands in July.
In the Older Trotting Horse category, Fashion Frenzie and Forbidden Trade are the two finalists.
Fashion Frenzie won seven of nine starts for trainer Richard Moreau this season, totalling $226,246 in purses. Most of the victories for the son of Archangel were in Mohawk’s Open Trot, with his notable stakes win coming at Georgian Downs where he won the Earl Rowe Memorial and set a new track record. An O’Brien win here would be his second in a row after winning as a three-year-old last year.
Forbidden Trade won four of 16 starts this season, amassing $245,543 in purses for trainer Luc Blais. All of his victories came at the top classes at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Including his trophy for Horse of the Year in 2019, an O’Brien Award here for the son of Kadabra would be the fourth on his resume.
Richard Moreau will be looking to add a record 10th O’Brien trophy to his mantle in the Trainer of the Year category and is up against first-time nominee Shawn Steacy.
Richard Moreau of Puslinch, Ont., has earned nine consecutive titles as Canada’s Trainer of the Year. To date, in 2022, he tops the charts for all trainers in Canada in both wins and earnings. He was the leading trainer of 2022 at Georgian Downs and currently leads the standings at both Woodbine Mohawk Park and Flamboro Downs. Moreau has sent 324 winners postward to date for the season and trained horses to more than $5.1 million in earnings, including O’Brien finalists Fashion Frenzie and Gaines Hanover, the latter the horse that gave Moreau his first Breeders Crown victory.
Shawn Steacy earned his first nomination in the Trainer category following what has been a career season. To date, he has set career highs in wins (98) and earnings (more than $2.8 million). He trains three O’Brien finalists -- Breeders Crown champion Sylvia Hanover, Ace Of Aces and Warrawee Xenia. Steacy is also a finalist for the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship.
James MacDonald and Doug McNair, who sit first and third in the country, respectively, in purse earnings, are the Keith Waples Driver of the Year finalists.
After taking home this honour a year ago, James MacDonald is looking to become the first driver to win the award back-to-back since Louis-Philippe Roy did it in 2018-2019. MacDonald set career highs in wins and earnings a year ago, but shattered his personal bests this season, winning 445 races with more than $9.8 million in purse earnings to date. In addition to leading all Canadian drivers in wins and earnings during this career season, he added a second consecutive Lampman Cup, which is awarded to the leading driver in the OSS program. Other accomplishments include winning the inaugural Charles Juravinski Memorial Cup at Flamboro Downs with Linedrive Hanover in a Canadian-record time, as well as an historic night at Woodbine Mohawk Park which saw him win eight races on a card -- a new WEG/OJC record. Macdonald is the regular driver for four O’Brien Award finalists -- Ace Of Aces, So Much More, Adare Castle and Twin B Archie.
Doug McNair is looking to win this award for the second time of his career -- the first coming in 2017. In 2022, McNair is enjoying tremendous success, winning 300 races with earnings just under $7 million to date. This season, McNair has won a number of marquee races in Canada, including the Battle Of Waterloo at Grand River Raceway, a Breeders Crown Final, and an OSS Super Final with O’Brien finalist Silver Label. On top of that, McNair will be representing Canada at the World Driving Championship in Europe in 2023, after winning the National Driving Championship, presented by Standardbred Canada, at Century Mile in November.
Dr. Ian Moore and Shawn Steacy are the finalists for the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship. Moore won this award back in 2015 while this nomination is the first for Steacy.
In 2022, Dr. Ian Moore enjoyed one of his best years to date, finishing with more than $2.4 million in earnings, which was a career best for him. Most of his success came courtesy of his two O’Brien Award finalists, Stockade Seelster and Tattoo Artist. His star freshman, Stockade Seelster, swept every race in the provincial program this year and added a Metro Pace title at Woodbine Mohawk Park, giving Moore the first Metro of his career. Tattoo Artist finished with more than $1 million in earnings in a single season for the first time in his four-year racing career.
The finalists for the Armstrong Breeder of the Year Award are Millar Farms and Robert McIntosh.
Robert McIntosh has been named the sole or co-winner of this award four times, with the last coming in 2014. In 2022, 97 different horses bred by McIntosh started, earning more than $3.2 million in purses, for an average per starter of $33,264. Some of his most notable starters included Battle Of The Belles winner Big Big Plans and OSS Gold winner Moment Is Here.
Millar Farms was the leading breeder in the 2022 OSS program and, in total, saw 34 starters earn more than $2.1 million -- an average per starter of $62,747. Some of the most notable starters bred by Millar Farms in 2022 were OSS Super Final winner Silver Label and Simcoe Stakes winner Velvet Stinger.
Ontario-based trainer Cassidy Schneider and Quebec native driver Samuel Fillion are the finalists in the Future Star category.
Cassidy Schneider, 20, races all across southwestern Ontario but has truly become a household name at The Raceway at the Western Fair District in London where she leads the trainer standings in purses and sits second in victories. Overall on the season, she has 85 wins, with her horses making more than $618,000 combined. This season easily marks the best of her young training career.
Samuel Fillion, 25, has gone from 100 victories and $574,000 in purses a year ago to 163 and more than $1.1 million in 2022. The Quebec native won the right to represent his home region at the 2022 National Driving Championship in Edmonton, Alta. in November, and is having great success at Rideau Carleton Raceway, where he currently sits in third place in the driver standings in both wins and earnings.
2022 O'BRIEN AWARD FINALISTS
Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly
Owners: R C Molyneux Racing, Sparta, ON
John Pentland, Dorchester, ON
Peter Charlton, St. Thomas, ON
Archie Leach, London, ON
Breeder: Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Wallkill, NY
Owner: Hudson Standardbred Stb Inc., Hudson, QC
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Inc., Hanover, PA
Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt
ACE OF ACES
Owners: Katherine Steacy, Lansdowne, ON
A K Malik Stable, Ottawa , ON
Landmark 15 Racing Stable, Lansdowne, ON
Breeder: Big Als Stables Inc., Woodbridge, ON
Owners: Sally MacDonald, Souris, PE
Paul MacDonald, Toronto, ON
Breeder: Seelster Farms Inc., Lucan, ON
Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly
Owners: Robert Jones, Stony Plain, AB
Diane Bertrand, Lake Country, BC
John Hind, Calgary, AB
Breeder: Karen Sobey, Sturgeon County, AB & Diane Bertrand, Edmonton, AB
Owner: Millar Farms, Stouffville, ON
Breeder: Millar Farms, Stouffville, ON
Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt
Owner: Schooner II Stable, Truro, NS
Breeder: Schooner II Stable, Truro, NS
Owners: Patricia Stable, Massapequa, NY
Joe Sbrocco, Brecksville, OH
Country Club Acres Inc., Findlay, OH
Laexpressfoderadeovolente, Chesterfield, NJ
Breeder: Brittany Farms LLC, Versailles, KY
Older Pacing Mare
SO MUCH MORE
Owners: Don Beatson, Granton, ON
Ken Beatson, Palgrave, ON
Cole England, Exeter, ON
Breeder: Doug Mac Phee, New Haven, PE
TEST OF FAITH
Owners: Melvin Segal, Charlotte, NC
Kentuckiana Racing Stable, Lexington, KY
Eddie Gran, Lexington, KY
Breeder: Fred Hertrich, Seaford, DE
Older Pacing Horse
Owners: Jack Darling Stables Ltd, Cambridge, ON
Brad Grant, Milton, ON
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Inc., Hanover, PA
Owners: Let It Ride Stables Inc., Boca Raton, FL
Frank Cannon, Sanford, FL
Diamond Creek Racing, Wellsville, PA
Breeder: Tara Hills Stud Ltd., Port Perry, ON
Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly
Owners: Bet Max Stables Inc, Casco, MI
Benenati Inc, Clinton Twp, MI
Breeder: Bet Max Stables Inc, Casco, MI & Benenati Inc, Clinton Twp, MI
SILLY ME HANOVER
Owner: Determination, Montreal, QC
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Inc, Hanover, PA
Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt
Owner: Gestion J Y Blais Inc, Montreal, QC
Breeder: Hanover Shoe Farms Inc., Hanover, PA
Owners: Lindy Farms Of Conn., Enfield, CT
Robert Rudolph, Vineland, NJ
Breeder: S R F Stable, Lighthouse Point, FL
Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly
Owners: Mark Etsell, Rockwood, ON
Robert Newton, Walkerton, ON
Graham Hopkins, Chesley, ON
Peter Porter, Port Dover, ON
Breeder: Ed Lohmeyer, Cream Ridge, NJ
Owners: Mark Steacy, Lansdowne, ON
David McDonald, Cornwall, ON
Dale Larson, Kent City, MI
Diane Bertrand, Lake Country, BC
Breeder: Warrawee Farm, Rockwood, ON
Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt
Owners: Charalambos Christoforou, Campbellville, ON
Irvann Holdings Inc, Toronto, ON
Breeder: Banjo Farms, Toronto, ON & Charalambos Christoforou, Campbellville, ON
TWIN B ARCHIE
Owners: Scott McEneny, Puslinch, ON
Domenic Chiaravalle, Hamilton, ON
Floyd Marshall, Jarvis, ON
Martwest Racing Stable, Mississauga, ON
Breeder: Twinbrook Limited, Embro, ON
Older Trotting Mare
Owners: Crawford Farms Racing, Syracuse, NY
Brad Grant, Milton, ON
Howard Taylor, Philadelphia, PA
Breeder: Order By Stable, Boras, Sweden
HP MAMA B
Owners: Guylaine Picard, Guelph, ON
Celine Paquin, Ayers Cliff, QC
Breeder: Ben Baillargeon, Guelph, ON
Older Trotting Horse
Owners: Ecurie Francis Richard Inc, Becancour, QC
Mario Bourgea, Stanbridge East, QC
Pierre Guillemette, Becancour, QC
Sylvain Richard, Becancour, QC
Breeder: John Petrik, Moorefield, ON
Owner: Determination, Montreal, QC
Breeder: Steve Stewart, Paris, KY
O’Brien Award of Horsemanship
Armstrong Breeder of the Year
ROBERT MCINTOSH STABLES INC.
Keith Waples Driver of the Year
Trainer of the Year
Future Star Award