01/27/2017 2:59PM

Harness: O’Brien Awards to be held Saturday

Email

This Saturday, January 28, Standardbred Canada will present the O’Brien Awards, Canada’s National Harness Racing Awards at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont.  

The who’s who of the harness racing set will be on hand to receive their coveted bronze busts of the late Joe O’Brien, a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.  Awards will be doled out in 18 categories, along with three Media Awards of Excellence and an Outstanding Groom Award.

Two finalists in each of the categories were announced in late December and the winners will be revealed at the Black Tie Gala.

Several past champions are looking to add to their trophy collections including defending driver of the year, Sylvain Filion and defending trainer of the year, Richard Moreau.   Last season Filion, a resident of Milton, Ont., steered winners of more than $7.8 million, making 2016 his second-best year behind his first O'Brien Award-winning season in 2012 when horses he drove won $8.66 million. With his seasonal success, the veteran driver reached a career milestone, topping the $100 million mark in lifetime earnings.   The other finalist in the driver category is first time nominee Bob McClure of Elora, Ont., who topped the charts for wins in 2016, and was the leading driver at many of Ontario’s smaller tracks including Flamboro Downs and Grand River Raceway.

Richard Moreau, of Puslinch, Ont., is looking for his fourth consecutive O’Brien as trainer but he’ll have to get past another trainer who has a collection of bronzes, Casie Coleman, of Cambridge, Ont.  Moreau topped the trainer earnings charts with $4 million and he also scored his 5,000th win as a trainer last year.   Coleman trained horses to earnings in excess of $2.8 million in 2016 and the stable was led by Betting Line, a winner of almost $1.7 million and a finalist in the 3-year-old pacing colt division.

Rick Zeron of Oakville, Ont., has three shots at taking home some hardware.  He is a finalist for the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship, an honor he won in 2010, and his 2-year-old trotting colt Mass Production and his older pacing horse, Shamballa are up for national honors.

The partnership of Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld are defending their title in the Armstrong Breeder of the Year Category, and are up against Seelster Farms.  In addition to the Breeder category, their homebred Ariana G is up for divisional honors as Canada’s top 2-year-old trotting filly.

The O’Briens will be video streamed live on standardbredcanada.ca starting at approximately 9:15 p.m. (EST).  

--edited release (Standardbred Canada)