‘Beach Party’ At O’Brien Awards

Published: January 31, 2009 04:28 pm EST

It was one big ‘beach’ party at the O’Brien Awards, Canada’s national harness racing awards on Saturday night

as world champion pacer, Somebeachsomewhere and his connections took home four of the evening’s trophies.

The O'Brien Awards are named for the late Hall of Famer Joe O'Brien and recognize the horses and people who have made the greatest contribution to Canadian harness racing over the past season.

Somebeachsomewhere who was the unanimous choice for Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year, was also honoured as the 2008 recipient of the Cam Fella Award, and to put the icing on the cake was the voters’ unanimous choice as Canada’s Horse of the Year, marking the second consecutive year he was voted Canada’s Horse of the Year, the first time in O’Brien history that this has happened.

In addition, his regular driver, Paul MacDonell, took home his first O’Brien, as Canada’s Driver of the Year. It was a coveted prize for MacDonell who had been the bridesmaid in this category in two of the past four years.

Somebeachsomewhere unanimously won his category as Canada’s Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year as every one of seventy-two voters from across the country gave Beach their vote.

Following a perfect freshman season in 2007 which included a World Record and two O’Brien’s, one as co-winner of Canada’s Horse of the Year, Beach gave Canadian racing fans lots to cheer about in 2008. The son of Mach Three all but rewrote the history books as he set a seasonal earnings record with more than $2.5 million, paced three World Record miles and won all but one of his races. He was the sport’s richest and fastest in ‘08, pacing to a 1:46.4 World Record effort at The Red Mile in a division of the Bluegrass Stakes.

Owned by the Schooner Stables, a six-member group from Bible Hill, Nova Scotia, Beach’s stakes victories included the Burlington, North America Cup, Confederation Cup, Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final, Simcoe, Tattersalls, Messenger and Breeders Crown. Co-owner Brent MacGrath, who makes his living selling cars, took 2008 off to manage the colt’s career.

Paul MacDonell, who has been Somebeachsomewhere’s regular reinsman for two seasons, finally got the O’Brien he’s been looking for. MacDonell drove 195 winners in 2008 and horses to earnings in excess of $8 million. In addition to Beach, MacDonell was also the regular driver for two other O’Brien Award winners – Define The World and Elusive Desire. He also guided Lantern Kronos to some lucrative stakes victories.

Bob McIntosh, 56, of Windsor, ON took home his fourth O’Brien Award as Canada’s Trainer of the Year. McIntosh led all trainers in the Ontario Sires Stakes with his stable earning over $1 million in OSS events. His stable won 159 races and earned $3.7 million in purses in ’08 to push him over $51 million lifetime in Canadian earnings. Nebupanezzar, one of McIntosh’s top horses was also awarded an O’Brien.

Nebupanezzar, North America’s top money-winning juvenile pacing colt, with over $1 million to his credit was voted Canada’s Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year. The son of No Pan Intended won 10 of 14 races including seven Ontario Sires Stakes events.

St Lads Popcorn took the O’Brien as Canada’s top Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the year. The Twin B Champ filly won 12 of 15 and over $600,000 for the Jack Darling Stable while dominating the Ontario Sires Stakes as she won eight events.

Chancey Lady, a winner of nine races and over $721,000 on the year was voted Canada’s Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year.

My Little Dragon, North America’s leading money-winning pacing mare with earnings of over $831,000, and 19 of 22 top three finishes took the hardware in the Older Pacing Mare category while Secrets Nephew, a winner of over $411,000 was named Canada’s Older Pacing Horse of the Year.

Elusive Desire was rewarded for her productive season with the O’Brien trophy as Canada’s Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year. She had the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and $395,000 in earnings to her credit.

The Muscles Yankee colt Federal Flex, a winner of over $560,000 and several stakes including the Champlain and Valley Victory was voted Canada’s Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year.

Lantern Kronos won the O’Brien as Canada’s Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year.

Al Libfeld’s homebred Define The World took sophomore trotting honours, winning 14 races and $751,000 last year with victories in the Simcoe, Canadian Breeders and OSS Super Final.

Breeders Crown champion Brigham Dream who netted over $222,000 for her connections, was the Older Trotting Mare of the Year.

In the Older Trotting Horse category, Arch Madness, winner of the Maple Leaf Trot and over $842,000, picked up his second consecutive O’Brien, this time as Canada’s Older Trotting Horse.

Phil Pinkney, 71 of Central Onslow, Nova Scotia was voted winner of the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship after one of his best seasons in training and driving in 2008. Regarded as one of the best developers of young horses in the Atlantic region, Pinkney had 26 wins and $135,000 as a trainer in 2008 and as a driver he notched 26 wins, $138,000 in purses and a .591 UDR.

Robert Hamather of Exeter, ON was awarded the Armstrong Breeder of the Year O’Brien trophy. Horses he bred that raced in 2008 made 23 starts, earned $1.2 million and averaged $54,082.

Winners in Standardbred Canada’s Media Excellence Awards were Dave Briggs for Outstanding Written Work for his “Beach Boys” article and Horse Racing Alberta for Outstanding Broadcast for its feature on Warren Grant.

On Tuesday, February 3rd, for the first time in the history of the O’Brien Awards, Standardbred Canada will release the vote tallies for each category.

A complete list of winners follows.



Two-Year-Old Filly Pacer
St Lads Popcorn -- owned by Jack Darling Stables Ltd., Cambridge, ON

Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer
Nebupanezzar -- owned by Peter Pan Stables Inc., Pepper Pike, OH

Three-Year-Old Filly Pacer
Chancey Lady -- owned by Niele Jiwan, Burnaby, BC

Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer – UNANIMOUS WINNER
Somebeachsomewhere -- owned by Schooner Stables, Bible Hill, NS

Older Pacing Mare
My Little Dragon -- owned by Adam Victor and Son Stable, New York, NY

Older Pacing Horse
Secrets Nephew -- owned by Lyle MacArthur, St. George, ON & Frank Grandinetti, Amherst, NY


Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter
Elusive Desire -- owned by P C Wellwood Enterprises Inc., Cambridge, ON, Charles Armstrong, Brampton, ON & Robert Fasken, Oakville, ON.

Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter
Federal Flex -- owned by Federal Flex Stable, Cambridge, ON, Ken Henwood, Mississauga, ON, Al J Libfeld, Pickering, ON & Marvin Katz, Toronto, ON

Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter
Lantern Kronos -- owned by Falkbolagen AB, Malmo, Sweden

Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter
Define The World -- owned by Al J. Libfeld, Pickering, ON

Older Trotting Mare
Brigham Dream -- owned by LLC Deo Volente Farms, Flemington, NJ

Older Trotting Horse
Arch Madness -- owned by Marc D. Goldberg, Woodmere, NY & Willow Pond LLC, Hewlett, NY


O’Brien Award of Horsemanship
Phil Pinkney -- 71, Central Onslow, NS

Armstrong Breeder of the Year
Robert Hamather -- Exeter, ON

Driver of the Year
Paul MacDonell -- 46, Guelph, ON

Trainer of the Year
Robert McIntosh -- 56, Windsor, ON






Standardbred Canada Media Excellence Awards - Outstanding Written Work
Dave Briggs - The Beach Boys

Standardbred Canada Media Excellence Awards - Outstanding Video, Film, or Broadcast
Horse Racing Alberta – Warren Grant Feature



After reading back my last statement in regards to Somebeach, I can easily see have the use of the word "secretively" was totally inappropriate and obviously spoken without proper thought. It was in no way my intent to demish the accomplishments of Mr. Macgrath and the contributions that he and Somebeach have made to the industry. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the man and was merly making an observation on the contributions of others. A buddy of mine pointed out to me that some people could read it as the view of Mr. Arsenault and I certainly hope that that was not the message conveyed. I have seen Mr. Arsenault at work and believe to be an extremely intelligent man with horses and well seasoned. I do not really know him personally. So if I have stirred up any wrongful ideas or understanding, I hope that this helps. Being fairly new to the "racing scene" in comparison, I guess I have a lot to learn. I only hope that I can learn from these veterans and have the same respect and admiration some day.

With no slap intended to anyone in particular the secret behind the success of Somebeachsomewhere lies solely in the capable hands of Brent McGrath. He picked the horse out, broke him, trained him, picked the stakes and paid them up. He made all equipment decisions and changes, drew up an amazing schedule and didn't bow to outside pressure to alter that schedule in any way. You could never minimize the impact a good groom could have on any horse. But the training, feeding and maintenance of the horse fell to the shoulders of one person; Brent McGrath and his family. The Beach was bigger and stronger at season's finish than he was in May. Only a top horseman can accomplish that when competing at that level of competition. The only secret revealed this past two years was that a relative unknown from Truro Nova Scotia proved that he is an elite horseman. All due respect to Jean Louis who is a solid horseman in his own right, but the credit for the development of the amazing Beach belongs to Brent McGrath.

secret,?/???when i read this article i called my buddy dave who was there for most of sbsw's races on both sides of the border (hes the guy holding the lines walking back from the winners circle) ,he wouldnt comment on who should get credit but did say jean louis paddocked the horse and was there whenever called upon.he also noted it was a priveledge and an honour to be around such an animal and that there are few people that would handle the pressures as gracefully as brent,his family and schooner stable did.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

What would be the secret. we all know Jean Louis help out with Beach when Brent couldn't be in Ontario .I Don't think anyone ever left him out. He always was in every picture in the winner circle .

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't think it ever was a secret that Jean Louis helped out Brent with the Beach when Brent couldn't be there . He always was there to get Beach after each race.

Much deserved congradulations to one man who was secretly behind alot of Somebeachsomewhere's success, Jean Louis Arsenault.

Congratulations to Bob McIntosh and Mike Kiessling (caretaker for Nebupannezar) We are all very proud. It shows what a lot of hard work, honesty, and dedication can get. In my opinion there is no better stable. We are a team!


Congratulations Phil on a well deserved award. You are a great ambassador for the sport and one of the most respected horsemen in Atlantic Canada.

Mr Pinkney has been a graet ambassador for racing in the maritimes,he has thrilled so many fans over the years,made countless trips to small tracks to give us a chance to see some of the best horses,he has also been looked up to by so many other drivers and owners,a gentleman to all ,thanks for all the memories phil

Congrats to all winners and losers, though you're really not a loser if you've been nominated for an O'Brien! Nice to see Paul finally get what he's more than deserving of. Great driver and not a better person could you find!

This awesome handful was a pleasure to watch this year-he had the strut onto the track and the trot off the gate -he deserved to finally get some respect and an O"Brien. Congrats.

Congrats to paul for driver of the year. Besides being a great driver 4 many years also a class act. About time he got regognized.

Congratulations a well deserved award for Horsemanship to Phil Pinkney - a true horseman.
Phil Coole

I agree with the min of 3 start rule, in fact it should be a horse should have over 50% of there races in Canada. We are awarding horses that contributed to Canadian Harness Racing, not just the fastest and richest each year.
I feel the voters overall chose appropriately, but completely missed with the Older Male Trotter. How much more does a horse have to do in Canada than Armbro Chronicle. He raced and won at several tracks in Canada and not just the big races, but did win two major stakes Frank Ryan and Earl Rowe, and won a elimination of the Maple Leaf trot and 7 Open Trots at Woodbine. Showing his versatility, winning on all sized tracks.

Congratulations to all the Connections, I feel you should have Won.

owned by Kent Baker, Coldwater, ON, Cal R Patterson, Wasaga Beach, ON, E Wayne Smith, Coldwater, ON and Randy Fielder, Coldwater, ON - and groom Sarah Beauchamp

Hope Somebeachsomewhere isn't robbed of USA
horse of the year.
The voters are very funny when it comes to outside horses.

I have been to many O'Brien Award nights in the past, but this one rates among the best. The dinner was 'top drawer', and the service warm and prompt. The award ceremonies moved swiftly, and 'politics' seemed less prevalent than in years past.

Somebeachsomewhere was clearly the equine star of the evening, with 2 O'Briens (3yo and HOTY) in addition to the Cam Fella award. I believe the sport has NEVER seen a pacer as great as 'The Beach'. Canadian-sired; Canadian-owned; Canadian-trained; Canadian-driven ... his Canadian annihilation of his adversaries epitomizes the qualities sought for an O'Brien Award.

That Beach was intrinsically connected to The Maritimes added meaning to these "O'Briens" for me - as did the award to Pinkney, the presence of the Jamiesons and countless others boasting Maritime 'blood'.

Paul MacDonell carries a Maritime heritage as well, and was awarded his first O'Brien after coming second twice before. Of course, he drove Somebeachsomewhere to fame and fortune; as well as Elusive Desire and Define The World to their O'Brien trophies.

But he was also quietly responsible for another winner.

A horse must race 3+ times in Canada to be eligible for an O'Brien Award. Lantern Kronos came to Mohawk with $6,250 on her 3yo card. MacDonell drove her to 5 consecutive wins, including the $588,706 Elegantimage Final. She left Canada with $368,353, and an O'Brien Award in the bank.

Over the evening, my thoughts ran to the memory of Joe O'Brien, and to the meaning of the O'Brien Awards. I've been to a lot of O'Brien Award nights, and this one was special.

I think "Dewy" doesn't quailfy for the O'Briens because he's an American Bred. I think "Dewy" has to compete in those awards down south (USA). This might also be the reason why "Son of Paige" didn't qualify for Top trotter.

Congrats to all winners

Congrats to all the winners.
It was a wonderful evening.

Why wasn't Dewey nominated? He surely contributed to the sport and won many stakes races...

Well deserved win by Phil Pinkney in the award for horsemanship. Phil is a true gentleman, and one of the best, most consistent horsemen Atlantic Canada has ever produced -- his horses are always a threat in any race they're in. CONGRATULATIONS!!

Thanks for the comments Mike (Gulotta) and best of luck at the awards tonight. All the best to your family - we at SC hope that everything works out ok.

On behalf of Deo Volente Farms, we are proud that Brigham Dream has been nominated as a finalist in the Older Mares Trotting division.

Should we be honoured by winning this prestigious award, we will have been awarded three O'Brien awards in three years - a hat trick in hockey parlance.

We have always been treated very well by all connected to racing in Canada and, in particular, by the personnel at Woodbine Entertainment. Our racing luck in Canada has been excellent including our numerous victories in the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Breeders Crown and the She's A Great Lady.

I would have personally attended the award ceremony this evening but due to illness in my family, I could not be there this year. Congratulations to all the finalists and to their connections.