10/22/2009 11:00PM

Divisional winners honored at HBPA dinner


FORT ERIE, Ontario - The annual Fort Erie Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association awards dinner was held Thursday and Nick Gonzalez was honored as leading trainer and also voted outstanding trainer by his peers.

Gonzalez ran away and hid on the rest of the field in total wins. His record included five visits to the winner's circle in one day and an eight-in-a-row streak.

Special mention in the outstanding trainer category went to Howard Keen. Top assistant trainer went to Sharon Simms.

Rui Pimentel easily took home leading rider honors. Top female rider went to Melanie Pinto. Top apprentice for the year is still up for grabs as Pinto, now a journeyman, and Mike Mehak are in contention. Who gets the award may depend on how the final days of the meet go for Mehak.

The outstanding rider award, which is voted on by all jockeys, went to Eddie Robinson, one of the most popular riders on the grounds who is known for his professionalism both on and off the track.

The Fort Erie horse of the year is the Lyle Morden-trained Chocolateforlunch, who also won in the female sprinter category.

Top male claimer was Cacouna, conditioned by Gonzalez. Best female claimer honors went to Here's to Temperance, trained by Mike Newell.

In the route category, Kilmoganny won five races and took home the distance prize while route female laurels went to Lucky Day. The turf male and female of the year are Another Ascot and Alkemene, respectively.

Best quarter-miler is Kraz' N' Flashy. Vikrant was named best claim of the year.

Three owners - Ivan Dalos, Mike Annechino and Howard Keen - continue to vie for top honors as the season concludes. Groom of the year went to Kendra Wieczorek.

Two Cup races highlight card

Three Cup races highlight the final days of the meet, including two on Sunday, the $28,750 Longshots OTB Cup, a six-furlong dash for 2-year-old fillies, and the $28,750 The Game Cup, an equivalent sprint for the boys.

The meet closes Tuesday with one of the most popular races of the year, the two mile and 70-yard Cheldon Tour de Fort for colts and geldings.

The Longshots OTB Cup has a seven-horse field. Leading the group is trainer Tom Steer's Sharing the Love, who won her career debut in style two weeks ago. Daniel David retains the mount.

Her main opposition is bound to come from You Wait 'n See and Wantabe, both trained by Gonzalez and ridden by David Piques and Anthony Stephen, respectively.

The Game Cup, a six-furlong sprint for males, is the sixth race of the day. Ten will go to the post, including an entry from the Newell barn, Wack a Troll and We Waz Robbed. Those two finished one-two when We Waz Robbed won in open maiden company in July.

Trainer Martin Drexler's Moby Dip has knocked on the door in both of his starts and should take his fair share of the tote action.

Woodbine conditioner Scott Fairlie has entered Mobil Forum, who romped in his only Fort Erie performance.