The finalists for the Earl Avery Award, an honour given to a horse, horse person or personality, or horse racing event that best represents the New Brunswick harness racing industry over the past season, were announced on Saturday, February 1.
This is the first year for the Earl Avery Award, which recognizes successes within the province or could also honour a distinguished horse or horse person and their accomplishments outside New Brunswick that brings recognition to the industry, both of which Avery himself did with distinction.
The winner will be announced on Monday, February 17. The presentation will be made at the Fredericton Horseman’s Association Annual Awards Banquet and Wall of Fame ceremonies later this spring.
The recipient of the Earl Avery Award will also receive a cheque for $1,000 in the name of a recognized charity that they have chosen. They will have an opportunity to present it to the charity on behalf of all horse people in New Brunswick.
The creation of the Earl Avery Award and the prize is a collaboration between Horse Racing New Brunswick and the Horseman’s Associations in Woodstock, Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton.
The six finalists are:
Bo Sowers - The Fredericton native was the 14th top-ranked trainer in North America in 2013. He had a .330 training average (640 starts - 129 wins - 99 seconds - 99 thirds). Sowers was also the top trainer in the State of Maine in all categories - wins, money and percentage. He returned home on July 1 and won the oldest running Free-For-All in Canada, the prestigious Walter Dale Memorial, with Malek Hanover.
Chris Davies and Dusty Lane Oscar - The horse and his trainer became fan favourites in New Brunswick this past summer, winning 10 races in Fredericton and Saint John during a shortened harness racing season. Davies and his ever present smile and 'Hey bud, how’s it going?' attitude, along with his nine-year-old race horse Oscar, kept on winning this past summer and paced to a lifetime best of 1:57 over Fredericton, his 50th lifetime win.
Dale Spence - He became a media sensation in New Brunswick in August after blazing Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John in a track record performance of 1:53.4 with Big League. The 1:53.4 mile was the fastest mile ever over a half-mile track in the province while breaking the longstanding track record. Making it more special was the fact that Big League was a New Brunswick homebred, who had his early beginnings in Saint John.
Gilles Barrieau - He was the leading UDRS driver in North America in 2013 with a phenomenal .419 average (507 starts - 138 wins - 96 seconds - 64 thirds) finishing three percentage points ahead of another New Brunswick native, Drew Campbell (.416), who races primarily in Maine. Barrieau was the leading driver at both race tracks in New Brunswick and he also campaigned the top Maritime-bred two-year-old Tobins Fusion.
Ivan Davies - Woodstock native Ivan Davies capped an undefeated season with the three-year-old trotting colt sensation Obrigado at Scarborough Downs in the $77,415 Maine Sires Stakes Championship Finals. Obrigado was undefeated in 13 starts in 2013 and earned over $100,000. Davies ended with the top two trotting colts in their division including Wakefield Fire, owned by his brother Owen and mother Donna. He has raced for a number of years in the New England States and has amassed 1,885 career driving wins and his horses have earned over $4.6 million.
Janet Stevenson Davis - She was the winner of the 2013 Harness Horse Youth Foundation’s Service to Youth Award. The Service To Youth Award is given annually to an individual, farm, or organization who exemplify outstanding effort in facilitating youth participation in harness racing. Recipients show exceptional assistance to existing HHYF programs or in their own successful efforts. The native of Fredericton, who now resides in Delaware, also co-owns and trained the three-year-old trotting colt Good Skies, who won the $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund Stake at Harrington in July in a record time of 2:00.2.
Reprinted with permission by www.standardbredcananda.ca