01/29/2017 1:19AM

O'Brien Awards: Betting Line named Canada's Horse of the Year

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Garnet Barnsdale
The connections of Betting Line accept his O'Brien Award for Horse of the Year

Betting Line capped a near-perfect season on Saturday night at the annual end-of-year ceremony that honors Canada's best by taking home Horse of the Year at the O'Brien Awards.

The son of Bettor's Delight’s  trainer and part-owner Casie Coleman said Betting Line is without question the best horse she has ever trained and it’s his will to win that sets him apart.

“There were a few times where I was sweating at the three-quarter pole,” she recalled, then mentioned specifically the North America Cup. “Where we were sitting at the three-quarters, I was ready to kill driver Dave Miller,” she chuckled. “But Betting Line had to come home in 25 and a piece to get it done and he did it.”

In addition to his North America Cup triumph, Betting Line counted a world record winning mile of 1:49 in the Little Brown Jug and another world record mile of 1:47 2/5 in the Battle of the Brandywine at Pocono Downs among his 14 straight wins to end the season. His only loss came in his first start of the year where he was a fast-closing second to older foes.

Betting Line earned close to C$1.7 million for Coleman and her partners Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol of Ontario. He is retired and is standing his first season at stud at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania.

Trainer Richard Moreau and driver Sylvain Filion, who have formed a lethal driver-trainer combo for several years now on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit, both repeated in the Trainer of the Year and Driver of the Year categories.

Moreau led all Canadian trainer in 2016 in wins with 256 and his trainees amassed more than C$4 million in earnings. Moreau noted with a wide grin that there is one big difference now compared to when he first started out in the training business.

“I don’t have to take the subway anymore,” he joked.

Filion notched a major victory when he steered Beyond Delight to victory in the Metro Stakes, the biggest race in the country for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers. That win contributed to his season-leading earnings of more than $7.5 million for the Quebec native.

Filion, who thanked many of his trainers and all staff, also spoke of father Yves induction in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame last summer.

“It was a long time coming and he really deserved it,” Filion said. “I am so proud of him.”

Filion wasn’t the only winner on the podium beaming with pride. One of the night’s more popular winners, Rick Zeron, who took home the Horsemanship award, teared-up when he reflected on son Scott’s season.

“Watching my son win the Hambo was priceless,” a choked-up Zeron said.

The colt that Zeron spoke of, Marion Marauder – winner of the Hambletonian and Trotting Triple Crown – was another popular winner by taking home the 3-year-old trotting colt and gelding O'Brien statue.  Marion Marauder won 10 of 15 starts for owners Marion Wellwood and her grandson Devin Keeling and brought them more than C$1.5 million in earnings.

Other winners on the night included:
Idyllic Beach:  2-Year-Old Pacing Filly
Ariana G:  2-Year-Old Trotting Filly
Mass Production:  2-Year-Old Trotting Colt
L A Delight:  3-Year-Old Pacing Filly
Caprice Hill: 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly
Lady Shadow:  Older Pacing Mare
Hannelore Hanover:  Older Trotting Mare
Wiggle It Jiggleit:  Older Pacing Horse
Flanagan Memory:  Older Trotting Horse
Al Libfeld and Marvin Katz:  Breeder of the Year
Louis Phillipe Roy:  Future Star
Teesha Symes:  Outstanding Groom