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Awards Night In Fredericton

Published: April 4, 2012 8:46 am ET

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When the chips were down, the Ace was often high at Fredericton Raceway. Ace On The River parlayed a nine-win campaign into Horse of the Year honours. The son of Western Success took home the most prestigious trophy during the track's annual awards banquet Friday night at the Fredericton Motor Inn.

A home-bred for trainer, Heather Hathaway of Keswick, N.B., Ace On The River is currently at the track training for his six-year-old season. The highlight of 2011 for the gelding was a five-race winning streak during which he paraded back victorious over each of New Brunswick's three racing surfaces. Philip Hodgson was in the sulky for all five of those wins, and piloted 'Ace' to eight of his nine wins during the year.

Ace On The River took his lifetime record of 1:59.1, scoring a gate-to-wire triumph at Fredericton Raceway in late September. He maintained a high-level of performance throughout the season, a testament to the dedication of his caretakers.

Gilles Barrieau earned Driver of the Year honours. The Saint John-based horseman guided 37 winners in just 126 starts during the season. Barrieau is hopeful of returning from a broken leg in time for this year's season opener, getting set for the Tuesday prior to Victoria Day weekend. He suffered the injury during a training accident in late November.

Barrieau won the Albert Goodine Memorial during FREX Week with MD Hardlys Success, and finished third with Part Shark in the 2011 Gold Cup and Saucer.

Trainer of the Year at the capital city oval was Brian Embleton, chalking up 11 wins in just 52 starts. One of the top horses in his stable was Bill Smythe's Texas Treasure, the horse that was acknowledged as Aged Horse of the Year.

Former Horse of the Year, Vulga Wil was named to the Fredericton Raceway Wall of Fame. Conditioned for most of her career by Mike Campbell, she was the only local horse to race in the 1983 Walter Dale Memorial. Owned by the late Gerald Goodine, she was the first New Brunswick-owned mare to earn her way into the Gold Cup and Saucer.

Tony DeCourcey also made his way onto the elite Wall. There has been no job too big or too small for Tony when it comes to promoting the Fredericton Horsemens' Association. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Sires Stakes, works on the FREX Board of Directors, and his been appointed to the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission. In addition he has been an avid participant as an owner, trainer and driver.

The Owner of the Year is Valerie Phelan while the Pioneer Award was presented to Bill Thornton.

Photo from left to right: Jim Bishop and Cathy Bishop (son and wife of the late track announcer, Gerald Bishop) made the Horse of the Year presentation to Heather Hathway (owner-breeder-trainer) of Ace On The River and Paul Jennings (assistant trainer and blacksmith).

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