Coleman On O'Brien Nominations
Published: January 20, 2017 9:59 am ET
Last Comment: January 21, 2017 8:14 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
When multiple O'Brien Award-winning trainer Casie Coleman made the decision to reduce the size of her stable this past year, she didn't anticipate that she would be celebrating at the 2016 O'Briens come awards season.
"It always feels great when Kathy [Wade Vlaar from Standardbred Canada] is calling you a day before the award [nominees] are getting announced!" said Coleman, who campaigned Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year nominee Betting Line and is a finalist herself for Trainer of the Year.
Coleman reduced her stable in 2016 to focus on her stakes performers and topped her stats from the previous year with 53 wins from 197 starts and almost $2.85 million in earnings.
"When I decided to make my barn much smaller I pretty much thought that would eliminate my chance at another O'Brien, but here we are!" she said. "The whole season couldn't have been better. I had around 20 horses most of the season and everyone raced just awesome for me and my team all season."
The Cambridge, Ont. conditioner's stable star, Betting Line, was just a half-length shy of a perfect season in which he won 14 consecutive races and almost $1.7 million in purses for owners West Wins Stable, Christine Calhoun and Mac Nichol. The Bettors Delight-Heathers Western colt gave Coleman her second North America Cup victory and a third win in the Little Brown Jug. She also campaigned two-year-old pacing fillies Candlelight Dinner, Fade and Windy Sport, who each earned over six-figures in stakes competition.
"The highlight of season would have to be the one million-dollar North America Cup; it's the biggest pace race there is and to win it again with an Ontario-sired we had from the beginning was pretty special," said Coleman. "Coming around last turn, I didn't think he was gonna get there, but he's just an outstanding athlete and got it done!
"I owe the horses the most for my success; they are the real champs and athletes, they're the super stars and my job is just not to mess them up!" she said. "Also, my staff, who work very hard for me, and my owners, who support me, I owe a lot to. Also, my husband, Mark Herlihy, has not only played a huge role in making me enjoy life again and be happy, but also in running my stable. He was always hands on with Betting Line all season. I think he may have loved Betting Line more than me!"
Having secured two O'Brien Award nominations, Coleman will return from Florida, where she stables during the winter months, to attend the Black Tie Gala honouring the best in Canadian racing next weekend with her team.
"O'Briens is always an awesome night! Whenever I get nominated I buy tickets for my whole staff to join me as they deserve to be there as much as I do. Everyone's all dressed up and happy, the meal is always great, it's just a real good night to get to relax and reflect on all the awesome horses we got to race and watch race that past season.
"I wish we could move the awards somewhere warmer though! The only part I dread is taking a plane ride from plus 28C to [something like] minus 20C," she laughed. (the current forecast has temperatures around 0°C or 32°F)
Coleman is the only woman to have been named Canada's Trainer of the Year, and she holds the record for most wins in the category. She is in the running for her sixth Trainer of the Year title, with past wins in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012. Coleman is a finalist along with three-time defending champion Richard Moreau, who led all trainers in Canada for wins (256) and earnings ($4 million) in 2016.
Meanwhile, Betting Line's connections have enjoyed past success in the three-year-old pacing colt division. His sire, Bettors Delight (trained by Scott McEneny), earned divisional honours in 2001, while Coleman trainees Michaels Power, Vegas Vacation and McWicked swept the category from 2012-2014. Bettors Delight and Michaels Power were also named Horse of the Year.
Betting Line is an O'Brien finalist with fellow millionaire Racing Hill from the Tony Alagna stable. Betting Line's other victories include the Battle of the Brandywine, the Carl Milstein Memorial, Simcoe Stakes, Somebeachsomewhere Stakes and a sweep of all of his Ontario Sires Stakes races, including the Super Final. Meanwhile, Racing Hill hit the board in 14 of 16 races and racked up almost $1.65 million in earnings during a season that included victories in the Max C. Hempt Memorial, Delvin Miller Adios, Messenger Stakes, Tattersalls Pace and Breeders Crown.
The O'Brien Award winners will be announced at the annual Black Tie Gala on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont.