12/12/2007 12:00AM

Sovereign suspense about to end

EmailTORONTO - Nominees from British Columbia and the United States will join the cream of Ontario's crop at the Sovereign Awards ceremony at the downtown Westin Harbour Castle on Friday evening.

The Sovereign Awards, which honor the best in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding, are hosted by the Jockey Club of Canada.

Three finalists in 15 categories, as determined by a 4-2-1 points designation for each voter's top three choices, were announced last Thursday. The winners, plus the three finalists and winner in the horse of the year category, will be announced at Friday's gala.

True Metropolitan, whose home is Vancouver's Hastings but who also won stakes at Woodbine and Northlands, will be looking to repeat as Canada's champion older male.

True Metropolitan's trainer, Terry Jordan, and his owner, Bob Cheema, are finalists in their respective categories and also have Dancing Allstar on the 2-year-old filly short list.

Monashee, undefeated in five stakes at Hastings and two at Northlands before tasting defeat for the only time this year in Woodbine's Maple Leaf, is a finalist in the older filly or mare division for owner Ole Nielsen and trainer Tracy McCarthy.

Mario Gutierrez, the leading rider at Hastings, rounds out the Vancouver contingent as one of four finalists in the outstanding jockey category.

Cloudy's Knight, based in Illinois with trainer Frank Kirby, and Kodiak Kowboy, a member of trainer Steve Asmussen's far-flung stable, have strong chances at taking home Sovereign Awards.

Cloudy's Knight, who is a finalist in the turf male division, shipped to Woodbine three times and won the Grade 1 Canadian International and the Grade 2 Sky Classic.

Kodiak Kowboy shipped in to finish fourth in a two-furlong maiden race and returned to take the five-furlong Victoria at Woodbine. He went on to capture the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs and the Grade 2 Saratoga Special before winding up his campaign with a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Monmouth Park.

Under a rule implemented this year, 2-year-olds were required to make only two starts in Canada by Nov. 25 to be eligible for Sovereign Award consideration. The three-start limit remained in place for all other divisions.

Horses based in Ontario dominated the voting in the 3-year-old male and female, turf filly and mare, and sprinter divisions.

Sealy Hill, winner of Woodbine's triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies and runner-up when facing older fillies and mares in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor at 1 1/4 miles on turf, is a finalist in both the 3-year-old filly and turf female categories.

Sealy Hill's trainer, Mark Casse; rider, Patrick Husbands; owner, Melnyk Racing Stable; and breeder, Eugene Melnyk, all are finalists in their respective categories.

Financingavailable, owned by K.K. Sangara and trained by Lorne Richards, will be looking to repeat as the older filly or mare champion and also is on the sprinter and turf female short lists.

Knob Hill Stable and the estate of Steve Stavro own two of the 3-year-old male finalists in Leonnatus Anteas and Alezzandro.

Tyler Pizarro, the leading apprentice rider in Canada and tied for third in races won at Woodbine, tops the apprentice nominees.

Sovereign Awards also will be presented to the outstanding broodmare and in four media categories - feature story, newspaper article, photograph, and film/video/broadcast.