12/15/2004 1:00AM

A Bit O'Gold, Soaring Free vie for title


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Canada's Horse of the Year, along with 15 other divisional champions and the winners in four media categories, will be honored Friday night at the 30th annual Sovereign Awards gala.

An overflow crowd of about 350 is expected at the nearby Wyndham Bristol Place Hotel to honor this year's outstanding performers in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding.

The denouement of the evening will be the announcement of the three finalists and winner of Canada's Horse of the Year award. Soaring Free and A Bit O'Gold, both multiple stakes winners with more than $1 million in earnings this year, are the protagonists.

A Bit O'Gold, owned by The Two Bit Racing Stable and trained by Catherine Day Phillips, is expected to be named the champion 3-year-old colt or gelding.

Annasan, the dam of A Bit O'Gold, is a finalist in the voting for outstanding broodmare, which is a lifetime achievement award.

Soaring Free, a 5-year-old homebred owned by Sam-Son Farm and trained by Mark Frostad, is a prohibitive favorite in the male turf horse category. Sam-Son is a leading contender in both the owner and breeder categories, and Frostad is a finalist in his division.

The Sam-Son outfit also is represented by Dance With Ravens in the 2-year-old male category, Eye of the Sphynx in the 3-year-old filly division, and Shoal Water on the male turf horse list. Queen of Egypt, dam of Eye of the Sphynx, is a broodmare finalist.

Stronach Stable, also on the shortlist for outstanding owner and for breeder under its Adena Springs banner, has an individual finalist for turf female, Hour of Justice, and older male, Mark One.

Bob Tiller, a finalist for outstanding trainer, is represented in three equine categories, with both Brass in Pocket and Winter Garden up for honors as outstanding older female, Winter Garden on the sprinter list as well, and Simply Lovely a 2-year-old filly nominee.

Sid Attard, the other trainer finalist, has One for Rose in the older female category and Organ Grinder in the 3-year-old male division.

Regal Red, undefeated in five starts at Vancouver's Hastings this year, is a 3-year-old filly finalist.

Quincy Welch, Alberta's leading rider, is a finalist for outstanding jockey, while Shannon Beauregard, based at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, is in the running for the apprentice jockey award.