08/18/2009 11:00PM

New Sovereign Award instituted

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The addition of an outstanding filly/mare sprinter category is among changes to the Sovereign Awards announced by the Jockey Club of Canada on Wednesday.

The 35th annual Sovereign Awards ceremony, formerly held just after the Canadian racing season winds up at Woodbine in December, has been moved to Jan. 29, 2010.

The earlier date had means that horses will have until the Woodbine meeting ends on Dec. 6 to make the number of Canadian starts required for Sovereign Award eligibility, which is two for 2-year-olds and three for all other ages in the current season.

Previously, there was a cutoff date for eligibility two weeks before the end of the meeting to allow for the balloting process and announcement of finalists in advance of the ceremony.

Voting, which is online only, now will open next Jan. 7 and close on Jan. 12. The three finalists in each category will be announced on Jan. 18.

There also has been a change to the ceremony itself, which formerly was a black-tie, sit-down dinner affair and now will consist of a jacket and tie cocktail reception followed by the awards presentation at Roy Thomson Hall in downtown Toronto.

The deadline for submissions to be considered for media awards, which will be presented for newspaper article, feature story, film/video/broadcast and photograph, is Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The finalists will be announced on Nov. 24.