One Special Filly

Shawn Steacy discusses 2023 Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year, Sylvia Hanover
Published: February 4, 2024 07:45 pm EST

"That's the kind of thing that you dream of more than anything. When it comes true, it's beyond words at that point. You're lucky enough to find a special horse that can just do things most horses can't do and a great night like tonight you get rewarded and acknowledged for her specialness." 

Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year Sylvia Hanover stole the show at the 2023 O'Brien Awards on Saturday, Feb. 3 in Charlottetown, P.E.I., winning the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year award, an honour that is a dream come true for trainer Shawn Steacy.

Following a dominant freshman campaign, Sylvia Hanover returned just as strong, and perhaps even better, as a sophomore. The daughter of Always B Miki-Shyaway notched 10 wins and two seconds in 13 starts as a three-year-old for seasonal earnings of $839,375 for Ontario-based trainers Shawn and Mark Steacy and owner Hudson Standardbred Stable Inc. of Hudson, Que. Her 2023 victories, often achieved in dramatic, nail-biting fashion, included wins in the Fan Hanover, Mistletoe Shalee, Tompkins-Geers, Shady Daisy, Simcoe, Bluegrass (in a lifetime mark of 1:48.1) and Glen Garnsey, prior to capping it all off with a score in the Breeders Crown.

"Every race was its own picture to the story as it happened," said Steacy. "She just overcame so many things that normal horses don't."

Reflecting on Sylvia Hanover's contributions to Canadian harness racing, Steacy assessed her rank among the all-time greatest fillies in the sport.

"All time is a big, big category to step into and to compare any horse at that level," he acknowledged when asked about Sylvia Hanover's place in the history of harness racing. "I do believe she's creeping into that category though. You know, to get up there with the likes of a great horse like Eternal Camnation -- and there's many, many others too -- but she's on that doorstep and she should definitely be talked about amongst those horses now. If she can come back and do the kind of things she's done as a two and three-year-old at four, then that could put her up into a possibility of being the greatest or one of the greatest of all time."

After the O'Brien Awards Black Tie Gala, Steacy spoke about the special filly, his highlight of the season and the team contributing to her success, including his family and driver Bob McClure. He also shared an update on Sylvia Hanover and plans for her upcoming aged campaign.

Steacy's interview with Standardbred Canada's John Rallis and Jeff Porchak, the first in a series of interviews sponsored by Horse Racing Alberta, appears below.

(Standardbred Canada)