Meet Your Red Carpet Emcee!

Published: January 12, 2018 09:29 am EST


The 2017 O’Brien Awards, scheduled for Saturday, February 3 will have an Academy Awards theme which of course will include a traditional walk down the red carpet for guests arriving at the Black Tie Gala!

And, similar to the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and most major awards shows, the O’Brien’s will have its own red carpet emcee to ask guests, “Who are you wearing”? as coined by the late great Joan Rivers, recognized as the first person to provide red carpet commentary.

Standardbred Canada’s own version of red carpet emcee Joan Rivers will be none other than Kelly Spencer, the Marketing Manager at Grand River Raceway, and host of the Tarmac Show. Spencer will provide commentary as guests arrive and interview some of the finalists as they show off their tuxes and gowns. And if you’re not attending the O’Brien Awards, you can still take in the Red Carpet action on the SC website and Facebook, during the cocktail reception from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (estimated) as well as some cut-ins during dinner.

Let’s learn a little more about Kelly:

How did your childhood prepare you for your job today?

A teacher in Grade 2 uncovered one of my bad deeds (defacing a desk) and called me to the front of the class (under the guise of presenting a speech about goats). Before I began the goat speech, she launched into a criminal inquiry about the incident. I recall feeling like I might vomit and wondering how to best aim my face towards her dress. So, when I interview someone, I never ask unfair questions and I never sabotage their expectations of what the questions will be (unless they're a Grade 2 teacher).

What one accomplishment are you most proud of?

I'm immensely proud of everything we've done at Grand River Raceway. The fact that I can't isolate one thing as being the best is a good indication of how many things we've tried, and how much faith our Board has afforded us to action our ideas.

What is the most embarrassing moment you’ve had when working on the Tarmac Show?

Kelly: My God, it must be 50 degrees out here. My ass is literally melting down my legs.

Show Director (into ear bud): Kelly, your mic is still live.

Who do you admire in the broadcast industry?

I'm a big radio and podcast geek. Ira Glass of This American Life (WBEZ Chicago) is my favourite, followed closely by several of our own CBC Radio One program hosts. #Nerd.

Who do you admire in horse racing?

Anyone who cares for and/or trains horses for a living, especially during an Ontario winter and especially during this one.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Funnel cake — at any price, from any greasy grill, no questions asked. Just take my money.

Favourite actor / actress?

The timing isn't great, but Kevin Spacey is my honest answer.

Favourite movie from the past year?

Two documentaries — A Gray State and Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press.

Favourite racing moment from 2017?

James MacDonald winning the World Driving Championship!

One thing most people don’t know about you...

I'm actually quite shy.

What do you look forward to the most at the O’Brien Awards?

The 2:00 a.m. parking lot tobogganing is pretty epic, but it's the totality of the night that makes it special. The food, the clothes, the trophies, the anticipation, the celebration and all of the little details make it sparkle. It's one of the most important nights in the careers of so many people, and that energy really permeates the room. It's magical!

Tickets for the 2017 O'Brien Awards are now on sale and can be purchased by contacting the Industry Marketing Department at 905-858-3060.

Follow the latest updates on the O’Brien Awards on Standardbred Canada’s Facebook Event page and on the SC website.



Every year at this time , I wonder why Woodbine doesn't race on Saturday afternoon, the day of the O'Brien Awards. The afternoon cards they run during the holiday season are always well bet and attended. And yet, drivers, trainers, officials, Woodbine employees, and others are denied the chance to be part of a wonderful evening... to fulfill their racing related responsibilities. An awards night like this, should be attended by all the key players who make harness racing so successful in Canada.