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A bone to pick with O’Brien voters

The View

The right to vote is a wonderful thing, and normally I would never question a vote that someone chooses to make - we all have the right to our own opinion. But if the voter doesn't seem to understand the parameters involved, I do feel that it's ok to try and clarify it for them. And in regard to this past year's O'Brien vote in the three-year-old pacing colt category, I feel that some clarification is necessary.

'Biggest contribution to Canadian racing.' That is the line that makes our awards unique to most others, as O'Brien winners are to be the horses and people that have contributed the most to Canadian racing. But this does not mean 'who did the best while racing on Canadian soil.' There's a big difference.

Contributions to Canadian racing can be made on Canadian soil, and on American soil - or in Europe, or anywhere else. So when a Canadian-owned and trained, McWicked travels to the Meadowlands and captures the Haughton, and a Canadian-owned, trained and driven, Emoticon Hanover travels to Pocono to win the Breeders Crown, they are telling the world that Canadian racing is second-to-none. That contributes to Canadian racing. And when a Canadian-owned, trained, driven and bred, Shower Play, stays home, and defeats the best pacing fillies in North America, on Canadian soil, that's a big contribution to Canadian racing as well. I think that most of us agree on that.

But here's my issue, and let me preface it by saying that I love the connections of Lather Up. I was friends with Brenda Teague when she was stabled in Canada years ago. I have spoken with both George Teague and Clyde Francis, and they were nothing but true gentlemen each time. I met owners/breeders Barbara and Gary Iles at the draw for the North America Cup this past June, and they are wonderful people. And I spoke to Montrell Teague after his victory in the Cup, to personally congratulate him, and even wrote a piece called Redemption in the July issue of TROT to publicly do the same. Team Teague are truly some of my favourite people in our sport. But please tell me, what did Lather Up do to contribute to Canadian racing?

Lather Up was bred in the U.S. He is owned, trained and driven by Americans. Yes, he raced here four times, and won all four, earning a sporty $564,500. I love the horse, and was thrilled, especially for Montrell, when he won our biggest race in dominating fashion. But what did he really contribute to Canadian racing?

Courtly Choice, on the other hand, is trained and partially owned by Canadians, and he won the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug. I'd say that he contributed a lot to Canadian racing by doing so.

Stay Hungry, on the other hand, is driven, and partially owned by Canadians, and he won the Cane and the Messenger. I'd say that he contributed a lot to Canadian racing by doing so as well.

Once again, I realize that this is a vote, and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And I was going to just let this go, as I realize that you're never going to please everyone when it comes down to things like this anyway. But then we (Standardbred Canada) released the voting totals, and I saw that Lather Up actually got two votes for Horse of the Year as well! One more vote than Jimmy Freight even got - the colt that soundly defeated him in the vote for three-year-old pacing colt of the year. How does that happen?

I love the O'Briens. It's a fantastic evening, and Kathy Wade, and everyone else at SC that helps her, work endless hours to make sure it gets better and better every year.

So come on voters - let's work just as hard to get this right. Every time.

Dan Fisher, Managing Director
[email protected]

1 Comment

March 15, 2019 - 6:57 amWhat credentials are required

murray brown SAID...

What credentials are required of the voters for the O'Briens?

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