01/21/2014 11:08AM

Sovereign Awards: Up With the Birds, Forte Dei Marmi top finalists

Michael Amoruso
Up With the Birds won 4 of his 6 starts in 2013, including the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Grade 1 winners Up With the Birds, Forte Dei Marmi, Phil’s Dream, and Ria Antonia headline the list of 2013 Sovereign Award finalists unveiled by the Jockey Club of Canada on Tuesday.

The top four finalists were announced in 16 different divisions as selected by 41 voters across Canada and the United States. Finalists for Canadian Horse of the Year will be revealed at the Sovereign Awards ceremony, which will take place at Woodbine on Friday, April 11, one day before the 2014 meet is slated to open.

Up With the Birds is part of a talented 3-year-old male division that includes Queen’s Plate winner Midnight Aria, recent Gulfstream Park track-record holder River Seven, and three-time stakes winner Five Iron.

Up With the Birds won 4 of his 6 starts in 2013, including the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park, and was beaten just a half-length in the Queen’s Plate for outstanding trainer finalist Malcolm Pierce and owner-breeder Sam-Son Farms, a finalist in both the owner and breeder divisions.

Nick Gonzalez, who won his second Queen’s Plate with Midnight Aria, was named a finalist as outstanding trainer, as was Tucci Stables in the owner division. Gonzalez and Tucci Stables also campaign River Seven, who finished 2013 with three consecutive stakes wins.

Forte Dei Marmi was a force in Woodbine’s turf male division over the summer, capturing the Grade 3 Singspiel, Grade 2 Sky Classic, and Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes in succession before finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Canadian International for Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield.

Phil’s Dream, River Seven, and Up With the Birds rounded out the finalists in the turf male division.

Phil’s Dream began the season in restricted allowance company but quickly became one of the best sprinters on the grounds at Woodbine as he won 7 of 10 starts in 2013, including the Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes for owner-trainer Paul Buttigieg.

Grade 2 winners Bear No Joke and Herbie D and Grade 3 winner Essence Hit Man rounded out the male sprinter finalists.

Western Canada-based Herbie D also was named a finalist in the older male division.

Overheard, who captured the Grade 3 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland for Pierce and owner Pin Oak Stable, was named a finalist in the 3-year-old filly and turf female divisions.

Part the Seas, an astute claim for $62,500 by trainer Michael De Paulo and outstanding owner finalist Bear Stables Ltd. in August, and multiple stakes winner Leigh Court were the only two horses to be named as finalists in three divisions. Part the Seas was named a finalist as older female, turf female, and female sprinter. Leigh Court was named a finalist as 3-year old filly, turf female, and female sprinter.

Outstanding trainer finalist Reade Baker conditions two of the four finalists in the 2-year-old male division, including Coronation Futurity winner Asserting Bear and Display Stakes winner Jose Sea View. Rounding out the 2-year-old male finalists are Grade 3 Grey Stakes winner Ami’s Holiday and Go Greeley, who won three sprint stakes over the summer.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Ria Antonia began her campaign at Woodbine under the care of trainer Ricky Griffith and defeated males to win her maiden in her second career start before moving to Jeremiah Englehart’s barn. Other finalists in the 2-year-old filly division are two-time stakes winners Paladin Bay and On Rainbow Bridge and South Ocean Stakes winner Lexie Lou.

Trainer Mark Casse is seeking his third straight and sixth outstanding trainer award overall after leading all Woodbine trainers in wins and earnings in 2013. Casse has a pair of Sovereign Award finalists with Grade 3 winners Sisterly Love and Delegation in the older female and older male divisions, respectively.

One of Casse’s top owners, John Oxley, will be seeking his second consecutive Sovereign Award after leading all owners at Woodbine in earnings for the second year in a row.

Along with Five Iron in the 3-year-old male division, Brian Lynch also trains 3-year-old filly finalist and Grade 3 Selene Stakes winner Coffee Clique.

Woodbine Oaks winner Nipissing, who succumbed to her injuries after breaking down in the Wonder Where Stakes, was named a finalist in the 3-year-old filly division. Her owner-breeder, Chiefswood Stable Ltd., was named a finalist as outstanding breeder.

Madeira Park, one of just two horses based in Western Canada to be named a Sovereign Award finalist this season, and Grade 3 winner Moonlit Beauty completed the finalists as older females.

Grade 3 winner Youcan’tcatchme and two-time stakes winner Goldstryke Glory joined Part the Seas and Leigh Court as finalists in the female sprinter division.

Multiple Grade 2 winner Solid Appeal was the fourth Baker trainee to be named as a Sovereign Award finalist in the turf female division.

Alpha Bettor captured three graded stakes at Woodbine in 2013 for trainer Danny Vella and was named a finalist in the older male division, along with three-time restricted stakes winner Ultimate Destiny, who was campaigned by owner-trainer Alec Fehr.

Skye Chernetz was named a finalist as apprentice jockey for the second consecutive year. Joining her this season are Sheena Ryan and Tommy Wong, both based at Woodbine, and Amie Pooli, who won 75 races and more than $1 million riding at Northlands Park in 2013.

Jockey Luis Contreras, seeking his third straight award, won the most races at Woodbine for the third consecutive year but was second in earnings and stakes wins to Eurico Da Silva. Justin Stein, who was third in stakes wins at Woodbine, and Rico Walcott, the leading rider at Northlands Park, were the other jockey finalists.

Adena Springs is a finalist in the breeder division, along with William Graham, breeder of River Seven.

Shebandowana, dam of Midnight Aria, is a finalist for outstanding broodmare, along with Star Guest, dam of Asserting Bear, Captivating, and Galadriel.

The finalists in the three media award categories will be announced in late February.