04/17/2013 12:48PM

Sovereign Awards: Uncaptured and connections figure to have big night

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Uncaptured (right) wins the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Uncaptured’s Kentucky Derby dreams came to an end after he disappointed in last Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

But Uncaptured and his connections figure to be front and center here Friday evening at the 38th annual Sovereign Awards gala honoring Canada’s outstanding performers of 2012.

Uncaptured, 6 for 7 with four stakes victories including the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club and Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill Downs, is a finalist for honors as Canada’s champion 2-year-old male and also is a candidate to be named Canada’s Horse of the Year.

Three finalists in each of 16 categories were announced by the Jockey Club of Canada in late January, based on choices assigned a 4-2-1 points preference by 41 Sovereign Awards voters from across Canada. The winners, along with the finalists for and winner of the Horse of the Year award, will be announced Friday.

Uncaptured is trained by Mark Casse, who led in races won and money won at Woodbine last year and is the favorite to take home his fourth outstanding trainer award.

Bill Graham, whose success stories last year included Uncaptured as well as 2-year-old male finalist River Seven, is up for outstanding breeder honors.

Uncaptured’s dam, Captivating, is a broodmare finalist.

Casse also trained 2-year-old male finalist Dynamic Sky; 2-year-old female finalists Spring in the Air and Spring Venture; 3-year-old filly finalist Dixie Strike; 3-year-old male finalist Delegation; and Roxy Gap, who is shortlisted in the older female, female sprinter, and female turf horse categories.

Uncaptured, Dynamic Sky, Spring in the Air, and Dixie Strike race for John Oxley, who was the leading owner in money won at Woodbine and a finalist in that category.

Roxy Gap, owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, sold at auction this winter but is back in the Melnyk fold now and currently in training with farm manager Phil Hronec at Winding Oaks Farm in Florida with a return to Casse the long-term plan.

Melnyk Racing Stable is an outstanding owner finalist.

Others who are finalists in more than one category are Hunters Bay, in the older male and turf male divisions; Irish Mission, in the 3-year-old filly and turf female categories; Magic Broomstick, outstanding female and female sprinter; and Taylor Said, older male and male sprinter.

Reade Baker, a trainer finalist, sent out Hunters Bay to win two Grade 3 main-track stakes at Woodbine and to finish second behind eventual North American Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on the turf course.

Hunters Bay’s breeder, Adena Springs, is a finalist in the breeder category.

Irish Mission, trained by Mark Frostad, won the Woodbine Oaks on the main track and defeated males in the Breeders’ at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Her breeder, Sam-Son Farm, is a finalist, and her dam, Misty Mission, is a broodmare finalist.

Magic Broomstick, perfect in three starts while racing on Woodbine’s turf and Polytrack, is a Sam-Son homebred trained by Malcolm Pierce.

Taylor Said, based for most of the year with outstanding trainer finalist Troy Taylor at Vancouver’s Hastings, was undefeated in four stakes starts there at distances ranging from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles and concluded his campaign with a victory in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs.

North American Thoroughbred Horse Company races Taylor Said and is a finalist in the owner category.

Strait of Dover, bred in British Columbia by his owners, Wally and Terry Leong, should be well supported in the 3-year-old male category based on his perfect three-start campaign, capped by a victory in Woodbine’s Queen’s Plate.

Seeking their second consecutive Sovereign Awards will be Essence Hit Man, in the male sprinter category; Atlantic Hurricane, female sprinter; and Pender Harbour, who was champion male 3-year-old of 2011 and an older male finalist this time around.

Pender Harbour’s regular rider, Luis Contreras, will be seeking his second consecutive Sovereign Award as one of the jockey finalists along with fellow Woodbine campaigners Patrick Husbands and Eurico Rosa Da Silva.

Scott Williams, who started out at Woodbine last year but then moved his tack to Alberta’s Northlands Park, where he was second-leading rider, is up against Woodbine-based Skye Chernetz and Jennifer Reid, who rode at Assiniboia Downs, for the outstanding apprentice jockey honor.

Awards also will be presented in three media categories – for writing, photography, and audio/visual broadcast.