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.
2008 O’BRIEN AWARD WINNERS
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
HORSE OF THE YEAR
CAM FELLA AWARD WINNER
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