Steacy Makes O'Briens History With Sylvia Hanover

The connections of Sylvia Hanover after winning the 2023 Fan Hanover
Published: February 16, 2024 05:42 pm EST

It's rare enough to train an O'Brien Award winner. Factor in winning Horse of the Year, even tougher. More than one Horse of the Year? Exceedingly rare. But now Mark Steacy has achieved something no other trainer can boast.

With pacing phenom Sylvia Hanover winning the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year Award at the 2023 O'Brien Awards, Mark Steacy — who shared training duties of Sylvia Hanover this past season with his son, Shawn — has his name on two Horse of the Year winners AND one on each gait to make him the first trainer with a Horse of the Year title courtesy a trotter and a pacer. His first Horse of the Year was Majestic Son, Canada's best in 2006.

Steacy wasn't present in Charlottetown, P.E.I. when Standardbred Canada's Chair, Blair Corbeil announced that Sylvia Hanover was Canada's Horse of the Year for 2023, but he had an inkling that her name would follow when Corbeil opened that envelope.

 "I don't like to brag or anything but I kind of expected it after the year that she had," Steacy told Woodbine Mohawk Park's Elissa Blowe and Jeff Bratt before the card of harness racing on Thursday, Feb. 15. "That said, it's still a really, really special honour to do that. You know, we did it once before with Majestic Son but this was just equally as impressive and this horse has just been fantastic for us."

Fantastic for sure fits as an adjective to describe Sylvia Hanover, who was also honoured stateside with a Dan Patch Award for her division once again and finished second in the Hambletonian / Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll. The daughter of Always B Miki - Shyaway sports a career summary of 18-3-0 from 22 starts for owner Hudson Standardbred Stable with earnings of $1,742,675. She picked up 10 of those wins and $830,000 of those earnings in 2023.

Steacy has sat behind his share of good horses in his day, and definitely a number of great ones as well. If there's one thing the veteran horseman can point to as a defining factor that helps Sylvia Hanover maintain her greatness, it's her brain.

"I think she's just that smart. Like, she's probably smarter than we are and she knows how to rate herself," said Steacy. "She knows when she's gotta do what she does. She always wants a target in front of her and if she doesn't have that target, she doesn't try so hard. But I just think she's so smart and she's always so easy on herself even during the week and stuff. She's so relaxed. And you know, I think it just all adds together to make her that special. "

Steacy was also very quick to give credit to the team behind the filly's success, and the stable's success as a whole.

"Since Shawn's been out of high school several years ago, my stable's stepped up to another level. Shawn is a person anybody would want to have in [their] barn. There's no person in this business that works harder than Shawn. And my other son Clarke, he came into it, too. It's a team thing for us. Clarke and his wife, Cara, at home (in Landsdowne, Ont.) they have their thing to do with starting them, and Shawn and Natasha up in Guelph here, they race them. And I guess I just overlook the whole thing."

In Thursday's interview, Steacy also provided an update on Sylvia Hanover, as well as her regular pilot Bob McClure and the pacer's stablemate Front Page Story. The full interview is available below.

(Standardbred Canada)

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